[Freemanlist2] Israel Air Defense Commander: Russians Are Not An Enemy - Barbara Opall-Rome

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Thu Feb 25 23:42:39 CST 2016


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Israel Air Defense Commander: Russians Are Not An Enemy
By Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News 11:41 a.m. EST February 25, 2016
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/international/2016/02/25/israel-air-defense-russia/80925600/

HATZOR AIR BASE, Israel — Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovich, commander of Israel’s 
Air Defense Forces, told reporters Thursday that “the Russians are not an 
enemy” and that the Israeli Air Force “has no intention to create needless 
friction” with Russian air power plying the skies of neighboring Syria.

Speaking alongside US Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, 3rd Air Force commander and the 
man charged with commanding a US-Israel Joint Task Force for air and missile 
defense, Haimovich acknowledged that Russian aircraft had violated Israeli 
air space at least twice in the past half year.

When asked, however, if that constituted a change in Israeli air defense 
policy, Haimovich said his mission is to “prevent enemy penetrations in any 
form at any time” and to do so “with professionalism and good judgment.”

“The Russian presence in the Middle East in recent months is a fact. Russia 
is not an enemy of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) or the Israel Air Force," 
Haimovich said. "We are trying to avoid all unnecessary friction.”

Against a backdrop of Israel’s Arrow, David’s Sling and Iron Dome active 
defense intercepting launchers, Haimovich and Ray briefed press Thursday on 
the ongoing Juniper Cobra (JC16), a biennial US-Israel air defense drill 
that is scheduled to wrap up at the end of the month.

Planned nearly 18 months in advance, the monthlong drill is the eighth in a 
series of joint exercises dating back to 2001. The two generals repeatedly 
insisted that the drill is not a response to any particular real-life 
events.

“We have over 1,700 soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines that are training 
side by side with IDF personnel," Ray said. "This is our nation’s premier 
exercise in this region. It’s EUCOM’s highest priority exercise in 2016."

“The purpose of this exercise is to improve interoperability of our air 
defense forces and our combined ability to defend against air and missile 
attack,” the visiting US three-star said. “Our presence and participation 
here increases military readiness. ... And just as importantly, it signals 
our resolve to support Israel and strive for peace in the Middle East.”

Ray noted that this year’s event is focused on computer simulations, and 
that, while US personnel would participate in support of Israel’s live-fire 
portion of the drill, US European Command did not bring its own intercepting 
batteries for the finale.

Ray said this year’s exercise, which builds upon previous drills, allows a 
rapid transition to Joint Task Force operations, with all US air defense 
units to be deployed in Israel in times of emergency reporting to him.

“As we look at what we’ve done in the past, there has been a marked 
improvement in our technology, tactics and procedures as we work together,” 
Ray said. “We’ve improved our organizational structure in the US so we can 
transition from joint defense of Israel to a Joint Task Force. … This allows 
us to do a better job.”

All layers of Israel’s active defense network — Arrow-2 and Arrow-3; Patriot 
PAC-2 air defense batteries; Iron Dome; and the not-yet-operational David’s 
Sling Weapon System — are taking part in simulations against coordinated and 
sustained salvo attack from multiple fronts.

They were joined in simulated battles by the Aegis destroyer Carney and 
THAAD and Patriot PAC-3 batteries participating via data links from the US 
and Europe, respectively.

In addition, all supporting elements from US and Israel intercepting 
systems — including the US AN/TPY-2 radar stationed in Israel, the Israeli 
Super Green Pine radar and the Multi-Mission Radar — have been connected via 
US-supplied Link 16 and fiber optic ground communications. 
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