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Major Israel-US air defence drill to start Wednesday

JERUSALEM (AFP/PTI): Israel and the United States will on Wednesday begin their largest-ever air defence drill that will simulate missile attacks on the Jewish state, officials said.

About 1,000 troops from the US European Command and an equal number of Israeli soldiers are to participate in the Juniper Cobra exercise running through November 5, the Israeli army said in a statement.

The exercise will test the Arrow (Hetz) system, the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System, as well as Patriot and Hawk anti-aircraft systems, media said.

It will simulate the firing of long-range missiles from Israel's foes Iran, Syria and Lebanon, and towards the end will include a "live" missile interception, the Yediot Aharonot daily said.

"The working assumption upon which the exercise is based is that the United States, in the event of a war, will provide Israel with missile defence systems that will operate alongside" Israel's Arrow 2 system, it said.

The army statement said "the exercise is not in response to any world events" and that planning for the fifth Juniper Cobra drill "started over a year and a half ago.

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