United States, Israel rehearsing for Iranian missile attack
Several US Navy ships just landed in Haifa to conduct a massive wargame with Israel. The Israeli and American militaries are conducting an exercise simulating a multi-front conflict with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. The exercise, codenamed ‘Juniper Cobra 2009,’ is the largest joint US-Israeli drill in history.
Juniper Cobra 2009 will reportedly include (on the American side) the Aegis missile defense system and THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense). On the Israeli side, it will include the Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system and other undisclosed elements.
THAAD includes PAC-3 missiles, ship-based interceptors and Raytheon x-band radars. According to Istanbuli paper Zaman:
The radar, which was sent to Israel last October as a parting gift from US President George W. Bush, would let Israel’s operational Arrow missile defense systems engage long-range Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missiles about halfway through what would be its 11-minute flight to Israel from Iran, or six times sooner than Israel’s “Green Pine” radar is capable of doing. According to one expert, with the X-band system at work and connected to the US system, a missile intercept theoretically would take place over Iran or a neighboring state and not over Israel.
This radar system is located in Israel’s Negev Desert in the vicinity of the Nevatim Air Force Base. American personnel, based in Israel, under the supervision of EUCOM (United States European Command) man the radar system.
A similar x-band system is deployed in Hawaii to protect against a potential North Korean missile attack.
Falafel Mafia previously reported on a (seperate) large-scale Turkish/Israel/American naval exercise last month. Previous Juniper Cobra exercises took place in 2001 & 2007 involving American and Israeli missile cooperation.
In real world terms, it is important to note that this wargame is taking place at the exact same time that President Obama restructured America’s missile defense shield to protect against Iran rather than Russia. The Juniper Cobra exercise will focus extensively on missile defense. As Zaman noted, any missile interception might well take place over a neighboring state (likely Jordan or Saudi Arabia). For this reason and for others, it is likely that any imminent Israeli-Iranian war would bring other states into the mix. As proven by the recent behind-the-scenes diplomacy in the Middle East, there is quiet support among the leaders of many Middle Eastern states for an Israeli missile attack on Iran. This missile attack, presumably, would receive American support — as proven by this wargame exercise.
Meanwhile, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski is urging Barack Obama to ‘be serious about denying them [Israel] that right’ when it comes to Israeli planes flying over Iraq to strike Iran.
News of the wargame was leaked to the pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat by Israeli sources.