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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

2019 in Review: U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation

As part of this year’s budget, Congress approved $3.8 billion for Israel’s security and to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.

But our success isn’t measured in just legislative wins.

In 2019, the United States and Israel saw unprecedented strategic defense cooperation between the two nations. Through joint exercises, high-level meetings and advancements in Israeli innovations that benefit America, the United States and Israel took major leaps.

Decades of strong bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship enable the alliance to grow stronger. Here are just a few highlights from the past year:

#1: The Bi-Annual Blue Flag Exercise

In November, the Israeli Air Force hosted the fourth bi-annual Blue Flag exercise with five international crews participating. The exercise included an estimated 1,000 personnel from Israel, the United States, Germany, Italy and Greece. This was the first time Israel used its F-35 joint strike fighter jets in the Blue Flag exercise.

#2: The U.S. and Israel Conduct Joint “Cyberdome” Exercise

In October, the U.S. Cyber Command and the IDF partnered for their fourth-ever “Cyberdome” exercise in which the two nations practiced responding to various cyber scenarios that threaten both countries.

#3: U.S. and Israel Special Forces Simulate a Ship Hijacking in the Mediterranean

In August, U.S. and Israeli naval special forces completed a large-scale joint drill that simulated the retaking of hijacked ships in the Mediterranean Sea.

#4: Israeli Firm UVision Opens a U.S. Subsidiary

In February, UVision Air in Israel confirmed that they will be expanding business to the United States through the launch of a new subsidiary, UVision USA. The firm developed a forward-leaning system that offers a lightweight precision-strike munition with the ability to reduce collateral damage.

#5: Top Leaders Meet for Key Bilateral Cooperation

Throughout 2019, many senior U.S. officials traveled to Israel for high-level meetings, including the U.S. National Security Advisor, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Central Command Commander and the U.S. Airforce Chief of Staff

#6: Successful Arrow-3 Missile Defense Tests

In July, the United States and Israel completed a series of successful tests of the advanced Arrow-3 missile defense system in Kodiak, Alaska. The system was jointly developed by the United States and Israel and designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.

#7: The U.S. Army Procures Iron Dome Batteries

In August, The U.S. Army finalized an agreement to procure two Iron Dome missile defense system batteries to enhance its ability to respond to mounting threats in the Middle East. The Iron Dome system is manufactured in the U.S. by U.S. defense company Raytheon and was developed in Israel.

#8: U.S. Army Tests Israeli-Made Spike Missile

In August, the U.S. Army tested Israel’s Pike anti-tank guided missile in order to enhance the United States’ precision capability. The Spike missile targeted a simulated a Russian Pantsir medium-range, surface-to-air missile system.

#9: Israel Hosts Multi-National Earthquake Drill

In August, the United States, Greece and France joined Israel for a four-day Mighty Waves earthquake disaster response exercise. Cyprus, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Britain and Chile observed the drill.

#10: U.S., Israel and U.K. F-35 Pilots Train Together in Joint Exercise

In June, U.S., Israel and U.K. F-35 Fighter pilots conducted training flights over the Mediterranean Sea in Israel’s first ever international exercise with the aircraft. The joint exercise was called “Exercise Tri-Lightning” and was the first drill in which the three nations carried out aviation training with the same air frame at the same time.