Defense Digest- March 2016

Defense Digest
March 2016

On March 4, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford (second left) met with top military leaders including Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (center right) and Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (right) in Tel Aviv (Photo: DoD).

Israeli Air Force Takes Possession of David’s Sling Missile Defense System

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has begun accepting delivery of major components of the David’s Sling Weapon System, according to Defense News. The system was put through multiple, successful simulations during the U.S.-Israel “Juniper Cobra” exercise in February and March—the biennial air defense drill that hones interoperability to protect against missile and rocket attacks. The delivery includes Stunner interceptors produced by Israel’s Rafael and its U.S. partner, Raytheon Missile Systems. According to a statement released by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, David’s Sling “will provide an additional layer of protection against short- and medium-range missiles and rockets, particularly against precision strikes.” David’s Sling will defend against systems which the shorter-range Iron Dome system and the longer-range Arrow system cannot optimally handle.

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Juniper Cobra Exercise Brings U.S., Israeli Medical Personnel Closer Together

The United States and Israel recently concluded the biennial Juniper Cobra exercise, which brought 1,700 soldiers from U.S. European Command (EUCOM) to Israel for military drills. The weeks-long joint exercise that began on Feb. 10 focused on enhancing the interoperability between the two militaries and countering the growing threat from missiles and rockets. According to the U.S. Army, American medical units worked in unison with their Israeli counterparts to respond to a mass casualty incident drill. The medical scenario concentrated on treating, evacuating and tracking patients as they were admitted to a medical facility. “U.S. forces and the IDF have been planning a medical scenario for a year and a half to support Juniper Cobra 16,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Pearson, the EUCOM chief of medical plans and operations. “While this is [primarily] a ballistic missile defense exercise, we were able to integrate a lot of other events, like this medical exercise, into the big picture to ensure our medical support plan is synced with Israeli Defense Forces.”

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U.S. Military Chief Visits Israel, Praises Defense Cooperation

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford traveled to Israel on March 4 to meet with top Israeli defense leaders, according to the Department of Defense. During his two-day visit, Gen. Dunford met with Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to discuss common threats the two nations face and opportunities for strengthening military-to-military ties. Dunford praised U.S.-Israel interoperability, specifically focusing on the recently concluded ballistic missile defense drill as part of the Juniper Cobra exercise. The drill “was to demonstrate interoperability, if not true integration,” Dunford said. “The feedback I had from the joint task force commander, and the rest of the team is they felt pretty good about where they are.”

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Israeli Defense Minister Meets with U.S. Counterpart in Washington

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon traveled to Washington D.C. the week of March 14, where he met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. According to the Department of Defense, Secretary Carter reaffirmed America’s “unshakeable commitment to the security of Israel and the importance of the U.S.-Israel defense relationship.” The secretary and the minister also discussed developments in the region and explored ways to strengthen U.S.-Israel cooperation. Notably, the two defense leaders agreed to increase ties in the cyber domain. As the existing U.S. security assistance to Israel expires in 2018, discussions between the two allies are underway to conclude a new package.

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Israel Test-Fires U.S.-Provided Patriot Missiles

As part of a preplanned drill simulating a missile attack, on March 7 the IAF test-fired U.S.-provided Patriot missiles. The Jerusalem Post reported that the missiles were fired from the Palmahim airbase in central Israel. The IAF conducts routine tests of the Patriot surface-to-air system “to enhance their effectiveness.” Patriot batteries are actively deployed in Israel and operate in conjunction with Israel’s other rocket and missile defense systems to intercept the full range of air-based threats.

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Lockheed Martin Wins $92 Million Contract for C-130J Production for Israel

Lockheed Martin has won a $92 million foreign military sales contract for the production of C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft for the IAF, Defense World reported. The construction will be performed in Marietta, Georgia, and is expected to be completed by July 2016. In 2014, Israel purchased two additional Super Hercules aircraft, joining its existing fleet of four total. Dubbed “Samson,” the plane is currently being integrated into Israel’s depth command capabilities and is designed to perform long-range missions.

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