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U.S., Israel plan major weekend test against salvo of missiles

Tuesday, January 7, 2003

TEL AVIV Israel and the United States are preparing for a major missile defense exercise over the weekend that will include the firing of a salvo of missiles.

U.S. Army units have arrived in Israel for the joint exercise, called Jennifer Cobra. The exercise will test the interoperability and effectiveness of Israeli and U.S. missile defense assets, Middle East Newsline reported.

The U.S. Army has brought several batteries of PAC-2 Gem+, an improved version of the PAC-2 deployed in the 1991 Gulf war. The U.S. Navy will bring an Aegis-class destroyer that contains the SM-3 interceptor.

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The U.S. Army plans to deploy 1,000 soldiers and personnel for the exercise, the sources said. The exercise will include the operation of all three missile defense systems in an effort to test interoperability and interception capability.

The scenarios for the exercise include the firing of a salvo missiles to demonstrate U.S. and Israeli interception capabilities. At one point, Israel had urged that only one missile at a time be fired. But officials said Israel agreed to a U.S. request for an interception attempt of a salvo of missiles.

Israeli defense sources said the two countries hope to complete Jennifer Cobra around Jan. 15. They said exercise was to have taken place in the last week of December, but was postponed for about two weeks.

Under the exercise, Israel and the United States were to have tested a range of low- and medium-tier missile defense systems. They include the U.S. PAC-2 Gem+ system, the Israeli-U.S. Arrow-2 system and the Aegis-class SM-3 interceptor.

On Sunday, Israel succeeded in its first test of the Arrow-2's ability to respond to a salvo of enemy missiles. Four Arrow-2 interceptors, only one of which contained a warhead, were launched in a simulated attack by four Iraqi medium-range missiles.

Later this month, Israel and the United States are expected to complete preparations for the joint production of Arrow-2 interceptors. A delegation from the Boeing Co. will discuss both marketing and production issues with the state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries. This will include the prospect of supplying the Arrow-2 to other countries.

Under the agreement, Boeing will manufacture the interceptor. IAI will produce other assets of the missile defense system, such as the Green Pine radar.

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