A large joint U.S.-Israel air defense training exercise will commence on Sunday and is expected to last four weeks. The drill is expected to simulate a ballistic missile attack on Israel.
Both countries will test a wide-range of operational air-defense systems, as well as those still in their planning stages, including the Israeli "Arrow 2" and "Arrow 3" anti-ballistic missile systems; the American "Thaad" (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles) system; Israel's "Patriot" surface-to-air missile array; Israel's "Magic Wand" system (designed to intercept medium- to long-range rockets and slower-flying cruise missiles), and even Israel's "Iron Dome" system (designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells), which has already proven its effectiveness in the Gaza arena.
In addition, next week the Israel Defense Forces Homefront Command, in conjunction with the Homefront Defense Ministry, will also hold a training exercise to simulate a large-scale earthquake with thousands of casualties.
Israel has emphasized that the two exercises being scheduled at the same time was a matter of coincidence, and that their commencement dates were determined in advance.
Israel and the United States have held a number of joint air defense training exercises. The last exercise to grab headlines worldwide was code named "Juniper Cobra," in 2009.