DEBKAfile Special Report – 12 Oct 2009
US and Israeli forces were already poised for their joint Juniper Cobra strategic missile defense exercise, which takes place every two years, to begin Oct. 12, when at noon, Oct. 11, an Israeli military spokesman suddenly announced its postponement by one week. The announcement came three days after Turkey called off its sixth annual international air maneuver when the US and Italy pulled out in protest against the Israeli air force’s last-minute exclusion by Ankara.
It also followed a statement in Tehran by Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami that Iran’s high-tech Sejil missiles can repel any threat and attack on the country.
Our military sources report that the announcement caught 17 US naval ships fitted with Aegis missiles and ground teams operating THAAD and Patriot missile interceptors already in place – altogether 1,000 personnel. DEBKAfile‘s military sources report: They were to interlock with Israel’s Arrow II and Navy for the biggest joint exercise they have ever held, simulating a multiple-direction missile attack on Israel from Iran, Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The American FBX-T radar installed at the Israel’s Air Force base at Nevatim in the Negev was assigned a key role in the practice which was to be overseen by Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander of the US. Navy’s Sixth Fleet, and the head of Israel’s air defense arm.
It was not immediately clear whether the postponement of the exercise by a week was a joint US-Israeli decision or one made by Israel for political or perhaps technical reasons.