The Israeli Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have successfully conducted a test meant to check the integration of Israeli and American missile defense systems, it was announced Wednesday.
The "Integrated Ground Test," the first of its kind with the new defense systems, spanned over five days and ended on June 22.
It tested the real-time communication between missile defense systems in Israel and the US, simulating a scenario in which thousands of rockets and missiles from Iran and Lebanon are fired at Israel at the same time to see how efficiently the six different missile defense systems can work together eliminate the threats. The focus was on connecting the missile defense system to the US radar system to detect the projectiles.
The missile defense systems tested were Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 as well as Israel's David’s Sling in conjunction with US systems Aegis Ships, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot missile defense systems.
The test was conducted simultaneously at command and control centers in Israel, which simulated Israel's multi-leyered missile defense system, and at development centers scattered across the US.
"We tested the systems' ability to work in tandem until the point of interception, without launching the missiles," Col. S of the IMDO explained to ynet. "In fact, we had one Israeli eye and one American eye on all of the targets, at the same time, and so we could see and operate better."
The Defense Ministry hailed the test as “another milestone in the missile defense program, which is a cooperation between the US and Israel.”
The test was carried out by Elisra, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems.
In an earlier test, conducted during a joint exercise between the Israeli and American air forces in February, it was the engineers and developers from both nations operated the missile defense systems at the same time.
The issue of missile defense is at the center of discussions over the US military aid package for Israel during the next decade. For the first time, Israel seeks to make the funding of missile-defense systems an integral part of the agreement.
This would mean an addition of hundreds of millions of dollars, which would bring the total sum of American military aid to Israel to some $40 billion over the coming decade.
Over the last ten years, Israel has been receiving hundreds of millions of dollars on top of the aid package from the US administration and, mostly, from Congress to fund the Iron Dome, David's Sling and Arrow 3 missile defense systems. In recent years, Congress approved some $600 million in funding for these systems per year, far beyond the $150 million the Obama administration sought to give.
In the wake of the nuclear agreement signed between world powers and Iran, the American administration committed to providing billions of dollars' worth of arms to Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Israeli defense officials said in talks with the Americans over the past five months that these agreements could only increase the threat to Israel if any of those regimes collapses.