The “Juniper Cobra” 2016 joint Israeli Aerial Defense Division and U.S European Command exercise is in its prime stages. Permanent American infrastructure which was established in Israel in the past few months, a fertile experimental field for the “David’s Sling” Interception System and 24/7 simulations, make it the division’s most intense and leading exercise

Tal Giladi | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

The “Juniper Cobra 2016” joint Israeli Aerial Defense Division and U.S European Command exercise is in its peak: this week the simulations stage was held as a part of which means of communication, weapons and combatants’ readiness were tested. The exercise focuses on Active Defense and the rockets and missiles threat being the most emphasized by the American side toward Israel, from Gaza in the South and from the North. In other words, the American side exercises the Israeli side by simulating missiles fire upon Israel and having the Israeli side defend itself.

The exercise’s structure and progression is mutual with the exception of the Israeli forces being the main trainees and expresses operational intimacy which will become relevant in the future if necessary. This week, the forces executed mutual simulations in order to exercise mutual decision making. Next week, the American and Israeli systems will undergo a war simulation and operate 24/7 while the IAF control stations inspects their actions.

About 1,700 American soldiers are in Israel for the exercise, which consists of a test of the work the American forces have carried out in Israel in the past few months. “This exercise is carried out as a part of our cooperation with the U.S Air Force and Military and its goal is to test and improve our operational abilities”, said today Brig. Gen. Zwika Haimovitch, the Aerial Defense Division Commander. “This cooperation expresses the deep connection between the countries and the militaries, but above all, the people”.

Cooperation between Countries, Armies and People

Photography: Ayelet Eder

Permanent American Infrastructure have been Established in Israel
The JC has taken place biennially since 2001. How does this year’s exercise differ from those before it? The Aerial Defense Division states that no JC is similar to its predecessor, each exercise contains new components accordingly with the division’s development. This time, a change in the way the American Partner understands and grasps the importance of the relationship is noticeable, its permanent infrastructure in Israel has strengthened, permanent infrastructure which allows the Americans to better aid the Israeli forces.

“This time, everything is really happening, sitting in an American short to medium range ballistic missile interception battery station and in ‘Iron Dome’ and ‘Patriot’ stations”, explained Lt. Col. Erez Elimelech, the head of the exercise directorate.

Cooperation between Countries, Armies and People

Photography: Ayelet Eder

Significant Experiments for the “David’s Sling” Interception System
A large exercise like the JC could quickly become a fertile experiment field for testing new weapon systems. For the “David’s Sling” Interception System, which is in advanced absorption stages in the IAF, the current exercise is an opportunity to test abilities and its integration with the other Aerial Defense systems.

“An exercise such as this is a chance to test how this system ‘communicates’ with other existing systems and change the combat doctrine accordingly with the conclusions”, said Maj. Tal, Head of the Active Defense Cooperation Department. “At the end of the day, every system affects the other systems and the dynamic between them is important. Therefore, we need to do things wisely and be coordinated”.

The Aerial Defense Division personnel trained alongside an American system with the same abilities as “David’s Sling”. “This is a very important professional and operational experience for us”, said Lt. Col. Koby Regev, “David’s Sling” Battalion Commander. “The mere participation in such an exercise with American force improves us and allows us to check if our combat doctrine works in reality. The debriefing of this exercise will serve us later”.

Cooperation between Countries, Armies and People

Photography: Ayelet Eder