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Israel completes preparations to defend against Iraq strike

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Monday, January 20, 2003

TEL AVIV Israel's air force has completed missile defense preparations against an Iraqi missile attack.

Officials said the air force has completed the deployment of two Arrow-2 missile defense batteries. They said the air force has also deployed three improved PAC-2 systems from the United States.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Cabinet on Sunday that the air force preparations were completed during a current exercise with the United States. The exercise, Juniper Cobra was meant to test the effectiveness and interoperability of U.S. and Israeli missile defense batteries, Middle East Newsline reported.

Mofaz told the Cabinet that the United States has transferred three PAC-2 Gem+ batteries to Israel. The Gem+ is an improved version of the PAC-2.

Officials said Israel's Green Pine radar was also connected to the PAC-2 systems to provide an accurate picture of Iraqi enemy missile threats. They said the PAC-2 radar does not have the range to track the flight of medium-range missiles.

For months, the Israeli military has been drafting a response to an Iraqi missile attack. The response involves intra-military planning and operations in a program called "Domino Effect 2."

On Sunday, Israel and the United States entered the second stage of their joint missile defense exercise. This stage involved interoperability between Arrow-2 and PAC-2 batteries along with other radar systems.

Israeli defense sources said the last stage of the exercise would be the arrival of a U.S. Aegis-class cruiser to the eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. warship would then join the exercise and seek to achieve interoperability with other missile defense assets.

On Monday, Israeli authorities launched a civil defense exercise in the coastal city of Tel Aviv. The exercise envisioned a scenario in which four Iraqi missiles landed in different parts of the city.

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