Defense Digest - March 2017

Defense Digest
Defense Digest

Commander of U.S. European Command Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti (center) traveled to Israel to discuss regional and local issues with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (left) and other top Israeli defense officials (Photo/DOD).

Arrow Missile Defense System Successfully Intercepts Syrian Missile

In its first-ever reported use, Israel’s Arrow missile defense system successfully intercepted a Syrian missile headed for the Israeli home front. The Israeli Air Force reportedly struck advanced weapons in Syria that were being delivered to Hezbollah. In response, Syria launched anti-aircraft missiles toward the Israeli planes, which successfully evaded the threat. However, one of the missiles was on target to fly toward the Jerusalem area and adopted a ballistic trajectory, and was therefore engaged and destroyed by an Arrow interceptor. The Arrow system —a cornerstone of the U.S.-Israel cooperative defense relationship—is one of the most advanced missile defense technologies in active military service. Arrow was the first deployed theater missile defense system in the world. Boeing and Israeli Aerospace Industries co-produce the Arrow. In total, the United States has provided more than $2.5 billion for the Arrow program since 1990.

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Israeli Defense Minister Visits U.S. to Discuss Shared Threats, Security Cooperation

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman traveled to Washington D.C. in early March to meet with senior U.S. officials, including his American counterpart, Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The two defense chiefs discussed shared security challenges, specifically Iran’s malign activities throughout the Middle East. Lieberman stated that U.S.-Israel defense cooperation is critical not only for Israel’s security, but also for the stability of the entire Middle East. During his visit, Lieberman also met with Vice President Mike Pence. According to a White House readout, “The Vice President underscored the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel and reaffirmed the United States' commitment to upholding Israel's qualitative military edge.”

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EUCOM Commander Visits Israel

EUCOM Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti traveled to Israel to meet with senior Israel Defense Forces officials, including Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. According to the Pentagon, Gen. Scaparrotti “…underscored the strong and enduring military partnership, noting that it was built on trust developed over decades of close cooperation. He emphasized the U.S. commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge in the region and its defensive capacities.” As part of his visit, Gen. Scaparrotti toured the Arrow Missile Defense System headquarters as well as a captured Hamas tunnel on Israel’s southern border. Gen. Scaparrotti, who also serves as supreme allied commander in Europe, previously visited Israel in August 2016, shortly after he came into his position.

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Israel, United States and Greece Conducting Joint Naval Exercise

Israel, the United States and Greece are in the midst of conducting the trilateral Noble Dina naval exercise. The drills include nearly a dozen surface ships, submarines and other assets training together on reconnaissance, counter-terror and anti-submarine missions. The exercises, which include Cyprus as an observer, will conclude in mid-April in Israel’s northern port city of Haifa. According to Commander Assaf Boneh, the head of international cooperation for the Israeli navy, the drill is “…one of our most important exercises that allows us to hone our proficiencies in very complex scenarios. We’ll be training in a vast area from Greece to Israel, and this gives us a lot of room to practice multiple scenarios.”

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Israeli Air Force to Host Largest-Ever Air Exercises

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) will host air forces from seven nations later this year in the largest and most complex air exercise in its history. Named Blue Flag, the exercises, which began in 2013, will involve new countries that have never before participated. Previous exercises included air-to-air engagements, ground attacks and maneuvering. The drills will include nearly 100 aircraft and hundreds of personnel from the United States, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy. “People are seeing there’s a lot to learn from Israel. In our tiny airspace and in the environment around us, things are so intense…Many of the world’s air forces are passing through here on their way to operations in Syria and elsewhere in the region. So we provide a sort of battle lab in which forces can hone a spectrum of skills needed to combat growing threats,” said the IAF’s chief of international affairs, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht.

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