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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Defense Digest: December 2018



In March 2018, more than 2,500 U.S. troops participated in the ninth biennial Juniper Cobra military exercise with the Israeli military. (Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

Israel Combats Hezbollah Attack Tunnels Using Joint U.S-Israel Technology

In the early morning of Dec. 4, Israel launched a defensive operation called Operation Northern Shield to find and destroy Hezbollah’s attack tunnels that crossed from southern Lebanon into Israel. Since fiscal year 2016, Congress has appropriated $177.5 million for counter-tunnel cooperation with Israel. In fiscal year 2018, Congress provided $47.5 million for such efforts. The tunnels—dug by the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah—are designed to attack and kidnap Israelis, and originated from civilian areas in Lebanon, illustrating the terrorist group’s use of human shields. Since Israel’s announcement of the operation, the United States has stood by Israel’s right to defend itself from this threat. “The U.S. strongly supports Israel’s efforts to defend its sovereignty, and we call on Hezbollah to stop its tunneling into Israel and to refrain from escalation and violence,” U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a statement.

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U.S. Army to Adopt Israeli-made Trophy Active-Protection System

The U.S. Army will be arming its M1 Abrams Battle Tanks with ELTA’s WindGuard Active Protection System (APS), Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced on Oct. 8. The United States will be using the technology to “support immediate operational requirements.” In June, ELTA Systems—a subsidiary of IAI—signed an additional contract with the U.S. Army for Rafael & ELTA’s Trophy APS. “The WindGuard radar provides game-changing capabilities for the U.S. Army with its ability to protect the Abrams Battle Tanks against modern battle threats. We are proud to be selected as part of the prestigious U.S. Army MBT Active Protection System,” said ELTA CEO and IAI Executive Vice President Yoav Tourgeman.

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More than 2,500 U.S. Troops in Israel for Juniper Cobra 2018

From March 4-15, more than 2,500 U.S. troops participated in the ninth biennial Juniper Cobra military exercise with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The large-scale, 12-day exercise is aimed to enhance U.S.-Israel cooperation by finding new ways to function jointly against an attack. To that end, the bilateral Joint Task Force-Israel was established to “plan and command thousands of interoperable land- and sea-based forces, all training in common doctrine, language and rules of engagement.” “We benefit from bringing the soldiers here for realistic training, improved mobility and the lessons we learn from working with our Israeli partners,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Justin Hickman. “They have the Arrow, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome. We have Patriot, THAAD and Aegis. It’s amazing technology, and we all gain from interoperability.”

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President Signs Annual Defense Authorization Bill with Key Pro-Israel Provisions On Aug. 13, President Trump signed into law the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorized defense spending for fiscal year (FY) 2019, including critical pro-Israel provisions that will help protect Israel against mounting security threats. The bipartisan bill authorized $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation and up to $50 million for U.S.-Israel counter-tunnel cooperation. The measure authorizes full funding for cooperative missile defense programs in accordance with the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance. Specifically, it authorizes funding for both R&D and procurement for the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missile defense systems. These programs enable Israel to defend its citizens while advancing America’s own defense capabilities.

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Israel Uses David's Sling for the First Time

On July 23, Israel used its David’s Sling medium-range missile defense system for the first time—launching two interceptor missiles in response to two ballistic missiles launched from Syria at the Jewish state. The rockets, which set off sirens in communities throughout Israel’s north, were believed to have been launched as part of the internal Syrian conflict and not directed against Israel. The David’s Sling missile defense system, which was jointly produced by the United States and Israel, serves as the middle tier of Israel’s three-level missile defense shield, along with the Iron Dome and Arrow systems.

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U.S. Navy Ship Arrives in Ashdod

On Oct. 8, for the first time in 19 years, a U.S. Navy ship docked in the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, a sign of the enhanced defense cooperation between the United States and Israel to combat shared threats such as Iran and its terrorist proxies. Typically, non-Israeli navies dock in the northern port of Haifa, making the USS Ross’ arrival in Ashdod significant. U.S. Sixth Fleet Spokesman Commander Kyle Raines said that the visit “reinforces the strong and enduring partnership between our two nations.”

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Type: Defense Digest