Israel, U.S. to Hold Major Missile Defense Exercise

Drill, called 'Austere Challenge12,' follows 10-day Iranian naval exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The Associated Press
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The Associated Press

The Israeli military says it will soon hold a major missile defense exercise with U.S. -forces. It follows a 10-day Iranian naval exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Israel's military says the drill with the U.S. was planned long ago and is not tied to recent events.

Arrow type missile being launched in an IDF test site, 2006.Credit: IDF

The drill is called "Austere Challenge 12" and is designed to improve defense systems. No date for the drill was given by the military on Thursday. Israel has deployed the "Arrow" system, jointly developed and funded with the U.S., designed to intercept Iranian missiles.

The West is adopting new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, charging that Iran is making weapons. Iran insists its program is peaceful. Israel considers Iran a strategic threat because of its nuclear and missile programs.

On Wednesday, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that Iran planned to hold more military exercises after a 10-day drill in the Persian Gulf raised tensions with the United States.

"The maneuver of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would be held soon," the ISNA news agency quoted Vahidi as saying after the weekly cabinet meeting. He gave no further details.

The Iranian navy carried out drills near the Strait of Hormuz last week after it threatened to block the strait, where some 35 per cent of the world's seaborne oil passes, if the West imposed new sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.

The United States has dismissed a warning by Iran not to return a US aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. The aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis left the Gulf on December 27 and a Pentagon spokesman said it would return.