US deploys THAAD missile defense system to Israel


The U.S. military for the first time has moved an advanced missile defense system to Israel as part of a monthlong joint air defense exercise between the two countries.

U.S. European Command is currently conducting a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system exercise deployment in Israel, “which is part of U.S. efforts to implement its operational concept & mission to assist in Israel’s aerial defense,” Israeli Defense Forces tweeted on Monday.

The forces added that the deployment “emphasizes the U.S.’s commitment to the defense and security of Israel,” but adds that “this is a defensive deployment that is not related to any specific current event.”

U.S. European Command said the THAAD system was deployed "in early March as a demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel's regional security."

"THAAD is the most advanced integrated air and missile defense system in the world, and this deployment readiness exercise demonstrates that U.S. forces are agile, and can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time," the statement adds.

THAAD, a system made by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, is meant to intercept short- to medium-range ballistic missiles and works with Israeli early-warning radars.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Washington’s deployment of THAAD is evidence of the United States’ “commitment to Israel’s security,” and would help in handling threats “from across the Middle East,” according to his office.

The THAAD deployment follows a separate weeklong drill between the two countries called Juniper Falcon, which tests coordination in the event of a ballistic missile launch against Israel.
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