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Wednesday, February 6, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

U.S. anti-missile ship arrives in Israel

TEL AVIV — The U.S. Navy has sent an Aegis missile defense ship to Israel.

The USS San Jacinto has arrived in the Israeli port of Haifa as part of U.S.-Israel naval cooperation. San Jacinto contains the Aegis missile defense system, designed to intercept medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles developed by Iran and North Korea.

San Jacinto, a Ticonderoga-class vessel, docked in Haifa on Feb. 4 and was scheduled to remain in the port for three days. Officials said Israel Navy officers would tour the Aegis cruiser and receive briefings on the missile defense system.

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Aegis, which contains the Spy-1A radar, has been developed by Lockheed Martin. The U.S. company has briefed Israel on Aegis as an option to enhance the nation's missile defense network.

In 2003, Israel and the United States held the first missile defense exercise that included Aegis. Since then, Aegis was said to have become interoperable with Israel's Arrow-2 missile defense system.

Officials expect the U.S. Navy to increase visits to Israel in wake of a decision by Russia to reestablish a presence in the Mediterranean. The first U.S. Navy vessel arrived in Israel in late 2007 after an absence of six years.

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