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January 15, 2003

Joint Israel-U.S. exercise checks country's air defense system

Hundreds of American soldiers arrived in Israel this week to participate in joint maneuvers with the Israel Defense Forces to test Israel's air defense system. Military officials denied media reports suggesting that the IDF had gone on "Red Hail" alert status in preparation for a possible Iraqi missile attack.

The joint Israeli-American military exercise was launched yesterday at an IAF Air Force base in the Negev. Initially soldiers from the two countries will coordinate and test communications systems and in the coming days soldiers will conduct exercises in the field as well, Maariv reported.

The joint exercise is codenamed Juniper 3, and will including the testing and integration of batteries of U.S.-made Patriot missiles and jointly manufactured Arrow missiles. An American naval ship based in the Mediterranean with radar capable of detecting missile launches will also participate in the exercise. According to media reports, the joint exercise was planned two years ago.