US and Israel begin ballistic missile defence exercise Juniper Cobra
The US European Command (US EUCOM) and the Israeli Defence Forces have commenced a joint ballistic missile defence exercise, code-named Juniper Cobra.
The exercise will include training in a computer-simulated scenario representing potential challenges for Israel in the future.
More than 1,700 US service personnel, civilian employees and contractors will participate in the exercise, which aims to improve cohesion and interoperability between the two nations.
US Navy captain Jeff Davis said: "The exercise is our nation's premier exercise in the region and with Israel.
"This is the eighth in a series of biennial exercises between the two militaries dating back to 2001."
Davis denied possibility of the exercise being related to any specific current events or developments in the region.
Since 2001, the nations have been conducting similar exercises every two years. The current exercise, started on 21 February 2016, is expected to continue for a week.
IDF Aerial Defense Division brigadier general Zvika Haimovich was quoted by Israel National News as saying: "The exercise is a major milestone an unparalleled security alliance in the strategic relationship between the two countries.
"This cooperation reflects a commitment to protect the lives of civilians and deep appreciation to the IDF, the air force and air defence system."
In May 2014, a computer-simulated defence exercise trained the nations' forces in ballistic missile defence, crisis resupply, foreign disaster response and humanitarian assistance.