Not under the radar, but overtly quiet with a much bigger footprint than Roving Sands, with the survival of Israel at stake, is the foremost and relevant integrated layered air and missile defense exercise in the world – the Juniper Cobra 2018 (JC18) – that concludes tomorrow in Israel. With more than 2,500 U.S. Air Defense Soldiers, over 500 U.S. Sailors on two Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) ships, and approximately 2,000 Israel Defense Forces personnel operating their missile defense systems, Juniper Cobra is the most advanced, most capable, and with the most capacity of deployed operating systems than any existing exercise in the world.
Every two years, this in-depth bi-lateral synchronization of manpower, command and control systems, launchers, and sensors that adapts, modernizes, tests, and becomes the highest standard to be replicated of providing point defense of a nation in depth, in layers, and integration against all types and all ranges of mortars, rockets, UAVs, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. It is in relative terms to Israel, their self-survival against Iran, Syria, and their funded proxy terrorist groups who develop, modernize, test, and launch these projectiles against Israel. The United States, in its bond with Israel, will forever protect and defend the country and its people. Additionally, Israel for the United States is a Forward Operating Base in the critical geostrategic region of the Middle East to defend United States National Security Interests.
“JC18 is part of a longstanding U.S. and Israeli bilateral exercise agreement. It is designed to allow the U.S. and Israel to work together in a combined missile defense exercise to deter threats and potentially defend Israel. Technically speaking, JC18 is a computer aided exercise that is conducted through computer simulations. It is not limited to Ballistic Missile Defense, but also includes logistical resupply and foreign humanitarian assistance.” – JC18 Combined Exercise Control Group Commander, Air Force Major Adam King
What Israel demonstrates in this exercise, with all of its U.S. supported systems in accumulation of the most valuable lessons shared and taken to enhance U.S. missile defenses, is not so much the new engineering approaches that provide cheaper solutions and new ways to solve the technical challenges, it is the accelerated and efficient processes of getting a new requirement developed, tested, and fielded operationally that is years and years ahead of the United States. It is what Secretary of Defense, James Mattis clearly states in the National Defense Strategy that is most needed. Lessons must be learned, taken, and applied.
The Juniper Cobra 2018 exercise and Israel in the air and missile defense of its nation is a test bed to look at what works and doesn’t work. The feasibilities of boost-phase missile defense, a cheaper interceptor for cruise missile defense, aerostats as overhead sensors for cruise missile defense, a more efficient way to direct the kill vehicle, and a safe reliable interceptor for mortars and rockets. These are all lessons and technologies that the United States should come away with to enhance its own capabilities and to reduce cost of investment to intercept. The United States has invested over $5.7 billion in Israel on Air and Missile Defense systems. The United States should be reaping the return on this investment to better and enhance their air and missile defense systems.
U.S Missile Defense Systems used in Juniper Cobra
- Aegis BMD
- TPY-2 radar (forward based)
- Sentinel radar
- THAAD (simulated)
Israel Missile Defense Systems used in Juniper Cobra
- Arrow 3
- Arrow 2
- Green Pine radars
- David’s Sling
- Iron Dome
With demonstrated operational air and missile defense capability in a layered active defense for Israel, it is now about increasing its capacity of these layers of defense, which they rely heavily on the United States capacity. The United States is already over demanded by its own Combatant Commanders around the world for these same systems and using European Command’s (EUCOM) limited assets to supplement in Israel. Out of 15 U.S. Air Defense Battalions deployed around the world, only one, the 5-7 Air Defense Artillery (ADA), based out of Germany for EUCOM is responsible to deploy to Israel, which it did in this exercise, leaving Europe less defended. The four U.S. Aegis BMD ships assigned to the EUCOM base out of Rota, Spain for the defense of Europe in the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), are also responsible for the defense of Israel, which they did in the exercise. The THAAD system and its upcoming integration with Patriot in South Korea, with five batteries in Texas, one in Guam, and one in Korea, has to be considered for a battery deployment to Europe, similar to the 5-7 ADA where it can support the defense of Israel.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing last week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand asked General Curtis Scaparotti, EUCOM Commander, about the Juniper Cobra 2018 exercise.
Senator Gillibrand – “And do you think this exercise can effectively counter some of the threats to Israel?”
General Scaparrotti – “Yes, I think so. It’s a matter of deterrence. It’s about making sure that those who may be thinking about doing them harm, knows that we have a credible and expert defense that we can deploy rapidly.”