Israel, U.S. Planning Largest-Ever Military Drill
    2012-06-25 17:43:31     Xinhua       Web Editor: haipeng

Israel and the United States are set to hold their largest-ever missile defense drill in October, local media said on Monday.

About 3,000 soldiers are expected to take part in the drill and they will practice responses to a simulated mass barrage of hundreds of missiles fired at Israel simultaneously from Iran and Syria, the Ma'ariv daily reported.

Israel will deploy its upgraded Arrow 2 missile defense system, while the U.S. do its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense and PAC-3 Patriot air defense systems during the drill, according to the report.

The Israel Defense Force spokesman refused to comment on details of the drill and would not say if the exercise was " Austere Challenge 12 (AC12)," which Israel postponed in January, citing budgetary limitations at the time.

In AC12, the Israel Air Force had planned to test its gamut of counter-missile and rocket systems, including Iron Dome, Arrow, Magic Wand and the U.S. - made Patriot. The U.S. was to bring along THAAD, a system for intercepting high-altitude missiles, as well as other hi-tech weapon platforms.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in January that he had asked U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to put off the joint defense exercise, citing budget restrictions.

"This was not a last-minute announcement," Barak told Army Radio.

However, Israeli ambassador to the United States said the postponement "stemmed solely from technical issues."

Emily Landau, a senior analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies, told Xinhua that whatever the true rationale is, "it's important that positions are seen as being coordinated between both militaries."

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