[Freemanlist2] Israel Air Defense Commander: Russians Are Not An Enemy - Barbara Opall-Rome
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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
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
“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.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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