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US deploys THAAD missile system to Israel

Acting U.S Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan holds a press conference after the NATO Defense Ministers' Meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on February 14, 2019. ( Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency )

The US for the first time moved a missile defence system to Israel as a part of a joint-defence exercise between Washington and Tel Aviv, according to a statement Monday by US European Command (EUCOM), Anadolu Agency reports.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system was delivered to Israel in early March at the behest of Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan.

The deployment is a part of a month-long joint exercise between the two countries, which includes not just equipment but also US personnel, who will be working on operational procedures for Israel’s air defence technology all throughout the country.

“THAAD is the most advanced integrated air and missile defence 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 said.

READ: Israel army conducts large-scale ‘surprise’ drill simulating Gaza invasion

EUCOM said the deployment is a part of the country’s “continued commitment to Israel’s regional security.”

The THAAD system was developed by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and is meant for intercepting short and medium-range ballistic missiles. The system is also compatible with Israel’s early-warning radars.

The Israeli Defence Forces said Monday on Twitter that EUCOM was conducting an exercise of the THAAD missile system in Israel, as a “part of US efforts to implement its operational concept & mission to assist in Israel’s aerial defence.”

The defence system deployment comes after another joint-military exercise last month between Washington and Tel Aviv called Juniper Falcon, which tested strategic coordination and cooperation between the two countries in case of a missile launch against Israel.

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