Israel is hosting a joint exercise titled Juniper Falcon 19 this week. Approximately 300 troops from various branches of the U.S. military will join forces with about 400 of their Israeli counterparts. The exercise is a joint, biannual U.S.-Israel rapid deployment and contingency response exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and Israeli militaries. The U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bilateral exercise officially began as a C-130j Hercules military transport landed in Israel on Thursday, unloading heavy equipment and will end this Thursday. Israeli units include the air defense array, the Planning and Operations Directorate as well as logistics and medical units. The exercise will simulate joint deployment in the region.
300+ US servicemen and women have landed in Israel for Juniper Falcon, the main IDF-US exercise of 2019. Side by side, we will strengthen our cooperation and readiness to face mutual threats. ????????????????#SquadGoals pic.twitter.com/cZSQnQP5zo
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) February 7, 2019
The military connection between the two countries was further cemented last week when the U.S. military announced they were purchasing “at least two” Israeli Iron Dome missile defense systems “for immediate needs of the U.S. Army.” The U.S. military said it would be deployed to protect U.S. forces overseas.
The Army notified Congress in October 2018 that it planned to purchase two Iron Dome batteries, Fox News reported. Israel has been using the system to protect its population from Hamas attacks since 2011 and it is reported to have been used against more than 1,500 projectiles with a 90 percent success rate. Defense News reports the systems will cost around $373 million.