Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visited the Pentagon on Oct. 19 to meet with his counterpart, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The defense officials discussed Iran and Hezbollah, as well as increased U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation on Syria. Mattis expressed the need to form working groups “that expand and deepen our [America and Israel] relationship as new threats and new dynamics come into focus for us.” Liberman also met with U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. On the heels of Liberman’s visit, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot traveled to the United States to participate in a U.S.-led international counterterrorism conference.
Oct. 24, the David’s Sling medium-range missile defense system was awarded the Technology Pioneer Award by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. At the 2017 Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense conference in Boston, the system was recognized as a “groundbreaking achievement.” Jointly developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the United States’ Raytheon Company under the auspices of the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the U.S. Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency, David’s Sling is designed to intercept short-range to medium-range rockets and missiles. At the event, IMDO Director Moshe Patel called the defense system’s capabilities a “significant breakthrough in the world of interception technology.” He continued, “[David’s Sling] is an important component of Israel’s operational capability to defend the country against regional missile threats.”
U.S. Army recently authorized the installation of Israel’s Trophy active-protection system (APS) on a number of its M1A2 Abrams tanks, making it the first military outside of the Israel Defense Forces to use the system. The Pentagon said the decision was made due to “an urgent material” request. Jointly developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group, the system protects against rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles. Trophy is the only fully operational and combat-proven APS in the world. Maj. Gen. David Bassett, who heads the U.S. Army’s programs in ground combat systems, said he envisions “a brigade’s worth of capability of Trophy on the Abrams.”
mid-October, the Iron Dome missile defense system was showcased in Washington, D.C., as part of the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA). The gathering highlighted cutting-edge radar technologies and operational launchers. The U.S. Department of Defense has expressed interest in purchasing the short-range missile interceptor, and the AUSA meeting provided an opportunity for U.S. government officials to view the system up close. On Sept. 4, the U.S. Army began testing Iron Dome and other missile defense systems in New Mexico, for possible deployment world-wide. Jointly produced by the United States and Israel, Iron Dome has protected the Jewish state against more than 1,500 rocket attacks to date, registering a 90 percent direct hit rate.
Oct. 5, a U.S. amphibious assault ship docked at Israel’s Eilat port—marking the first-ever visit of the USS America (LHA-6) to the Jewish state. The stop aimed to “strengthen relations between Israel and the U.S., when the two states are working together for the sake of regional stability and security,” said Col. Joseph R. Clearfield, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. While in Israel, the U.S. service members could “tour and experience the country’s rich history and culture” as well as host
onboard tours of Israeli groups, including local police officers, Israeli Defense Forces, Israeli Naval Forces and high school students. Previous visits to Israel by U.S. naval vessels this year included the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) and USS Ross (DDG 71), the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19).