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Israel takes down missile defense network against Iraq

Special to World
Monday, April 21, 2003

TEL AVIV Israel has dismantled its missile defense network established to protect against Iraqi attack.

Officials said the Israel Air Force has dismantled and removed an Arrow-2 missile defense battery as well as three U.S.-origin PAC-2 batteries. One of the PAC-2 batteries was located around the northern city of Haifa.

The three PAC-2 batteries were advanced Guided Enhancement Missiles, or GEM models and provided by the U.S. 69th Air Defense Brigade, based in Wurzberg, Germany. The batteries were expected to be flown back to U.S. European Command in Germany.

"We came here to assist an already existing air defense system," Maj. Gen. Stanley Green, commander of the U.S. Joint Task Force, told a ceremony that marked the end of the U.S. mission. "Our mission here was to deter, and if necessary defend. Deterrence worked."

The U.S. Cobra Joint Task Force is composed of 700 military personnel, who operated and maintained three U.S. PAC-2 missile batteries. The force included the Aegis-class USS Porter early-warning missile vessel stationed off the Israeli coast.

Officials said Israel and the United States will review the operations of the PAC-2 and Arrow batteries. The assets were linked in an air and missile defense network and tested in an exercise in January.

Israel has also leased two PAC-2 Gem systems from Germany for at least a year. Brig. Gen. Yair Dori, head of Israel's Air Defense Command, said his unit is considering purchasing the German systems.

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