WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- U.S. and Israel military will hold a joint exercise next week, with testing missile defense one of the main objectives, U.S. and Israeli officials announced Wednesday.
The drill, Exercise Austere Challenge 2012, will involve more than 3,500 U.S. service members and be conducted throughout Israel and off-shore, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin and Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Nitzan Nuriel said during a teleconference with reporters. Franklin commands the 3rd Air Force and is the senior U.S. commander for the exercise. Nuriel is the Israeli lead planner.
Franklin said more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel are arriving in Israel for the exercise, and they will be posted in a variety of locations across the country for the next several weeks. The exercise will test the cooperative missile defense of Israel.
U.S. service members will man Patriot anti-missile systems, an Aegis ballistic missile defense ship and various other air defense systems. The Israelis will put more than 1,000 service members into the field and will test the Iron Dome and Arrow 2 systems. The Israelis will also tie the developing David's Sling system into the scenarios.
According to Nuriel, most of the three-week exercise will be simulation, but some training will entail live-fire.
Austere Challenge 2012 is the largest U.S.-Israeli military exercise to date, and it is the latest in a long line of such exercises. The scenario for the exercise is not aimed at any specific threat or country in the region, both Franklin and Nuriel claimed.