First THAAD US-Israel missile defense exercise a resounding success

The month-long practice drilled the rocket interceptor system’s ability to integrate with Israel’s missile defense.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The first-of-its-kind deployment of America’s most advanced missile defense system in Israel was completed to the satisfaction of both militaries on Sunday after a month of practice runs dealing with a variety of scenarios.

THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is designed to intercept both short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in terminal (or descent) phase.

It is “the most advanced integrated air and missile defense system in the world,” said U.S. European Command (EUCOM), when it brought over 250 soldiers a month ago today to deploy the system as “a demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s regional security.”

The IDF worked closely with the Americans to enhance the two militaries’ ability to coordinate their defense from long-range threats, such as an Iranian deployment of ballistic missiles.

“The system is integrated into the Arrow [anti-ballistic missile] system and brings with it complementary capabilities,” said Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav, who commanded the joint operation. “Thanks to the professional ties and joint training, we will be more ready when needed.”

Besides improving interoperability with the Israeli systems via training drills, the purpose of the deployment exercise was to “demonstrate that U.S. forces are agile, and can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time,” EUCOM said in statement in March.

This part of the test was carried out “exceptionally well,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew Rohling, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe.

“The U.S. Department of Defense ordered, at short notice, to quickly deploy the THAAD system thousands of miles away, on the other side of the world, and then integrate it into one of the most complex air defense systems, and they provided the goods,” Maj. Gen. Rohling said. “The ability to deploy forces ready to fight so quickly to the sector is critical in order to support our allies and partners.”

Israel and the United States have held several joint military drills over the past year that included a ballistic-missile aspect.

In February, American and Israeli troops carried out a week-long joint missile defense exercise. Last March, a main focus of the biennial Juniper Cobra exercise was drilling the reaction of the U.S. and Israeli air force and navy in response to a massive ballistic missile attack.