US deploys advanced anti-missile system in Israel

The US army unloads a THAAD missile defense system in Israel March 2019

The US army unloads a THAAD missile defense system in Israel March 2019

The IDF said the deployment was defensive in nature and not related to any specific current event.

THAAD advanced missile defense systems and some 200 American troops have deployed to Israel as part of joint exercises.

The goal of the tactical deployment of the mobile American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Israel is "to train the ability to rapidly deploy complex systems around the world while strengthening capabilities and cooperation with the air defense systems of the Israel Air Force", the statement said.

"THAAD is the most advanced integrated air and missile defense system in the world, and this deployment readiness exercise demonstrates that U.S. forces are agile and can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time", U.S. European Command said in a statement.

The deployment, which began in March, was meant to test the U.S. military's ability to rapidly deploy such weapons around the world, said a spokeswoman for U.S. European Command.

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"During the deployment, our service members will work in various locations throughout Israel and will practice operational procedures for augmenting Israel's existing air and missile defense architecture", the US European Command said in a statement, adding that the exercise serves as a "demonstration of the United States' continued commitment to Israel's regional security". An Israeli army spokesman, told reporters that a THAAD battery, flown in from the USA and Europe, arrived Monday, March 4, 2019, at an air force base in southern Israel.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli army spokesperson, told reporters that THAAD arrived in Israel Monday, and had only been deployed a few times elsewhere.

The THAAD system is created to shoot down short and intermediate range ballistic missiles during their terminal phase - re-entry or descent.

The system is a highly-transportable, rapidly-deployable defensive weapon system created to protect against hostile incoming threats including tactical ballistic missiles at ranges of 200km and at altitudes up to 150km.

In November 2018, Saudi Arabia signed a letter of offer and acceptance with the United States for the purchase of Lockheed Martin's THAAD missile defence system.

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