Diplomacy & defense
The United States and Israel will participate in a bilateral military exercise in February, the Israeli army said in a statement on Saturday.
The exercise, Juniper Cobra, has been in the works since 2014 and is designed to improve the cooperation and coordination between the US European Command (USEUCOM) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The exercise scenario that the two will train on will be a simulation on ballistic missile defenses.
The last Juniper Cobra drill was held in Israel in May 2014 and focused on computer-simulated bilateral air defense exercises, the Jerusalem Post reported, and since then Israel has significantly enhanced its multi-layered air defense systems, including successfully intercepting a target in space using its Arrow 3 missile defense system in December.
Partly financed by the United States, the Arrow system was developed and produced by Israeli Aerospace Industries in partnership with Boeing.
Israel and the United States are currently finalizing another 10-year memorandum of understanding extending the defense assistance relationship. The current defense assistance agreement, due to lapse in 2018, provides Israel $3 billion a year in defense assistance.
A bitter public fight between Netanyahu and Obama shook a decades-old alliance. After acerbic clashes over the US-backed nuclear deal with Iran, the two leaders recently discussed a deal expected to be worth more than $30 billion which will include a string of advanced weaponry systems, officials said.
According to the reports in May, the two allies held talks around enhancing a previously negotiated deal to supply Israel with 33 F-35 aircraft, the first batch of which was expected next year.
Israel was also said to be asking for more Iron Dome batteries, additional assistance with the Arrow 3 missile system developed jointly by the US and Israel, and possibly, for the purchase of technological systems for intelligence gathering.
The US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee in May also approved $474 million for Israel’s anti-missile systems.
In October the Israeli and US Air Forces along with other allied nations took part in the bi-annual Blue Flag joint Air Force exercise.
The exercise took place at the ‘Ovda’ Air Force base in the Arabah and lasted for for two weeks and "creates a multi-national learning environment, including fictional countries, in which participants can practice planning and execution of large air force operations,"read a statement from the IDF Spokesperson Unit..
The Israel-led simulated combat exercise was a follow-up to a similar exercise two years ago, with the participation of the United States, Italian and Greek air forces. The purpose of that exercise was to rehearse a scenario involving “a high-intensity confrontation against a political entity with a strong army” – a goal set by the Israel Air Force in 2013.
Under US law, the American administration must act to maintain Israel’s military superiority over its neighbors.