July 21 (UPI) — U.S. Air Force cargo planes arrived in Israel this week to support Juniper Falcon 21-2, a joint U.S.-Israeli military training exercise, the branch said on Wednesday.
Two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft of the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, delivered personnel and equipment on Tuesday for the exercise, beginning on Friday at locations across Israel.
The exercise will “test simulated emergency response procedures, ballistic missile defense and crisis response assistance in the defense of Israel,” officials from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa said in a Wednesday press release.
The locations, personnel requirements and duration of the drills were not announced, but the event is a continuation of February’s two-week Juniper Falcon 21.
The February event involved about 500 personnel of the U.S. Air Force and the Israel Defense Forces, in Germany and Israel, in ballistic missile defense exercises.
The drills are held biannually and driven by “overall dynamics in the Middle East,” the statement on Wednesday added.
Because of COVID-19 concerns, the February elements of the exercises were largely held virtually.
Missile defense is an acute concern in Israel because hundreds of thousands of rockets, missiles and mortar shells are believed to be in the hands of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Israeli enemies in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.
Anti-Israeli Iranian allies in Yemen and Iraq also possess more advanced ballistic and cruise missiles.
The IDF said last week that Hezbollah is capable of firing up to 3,000 rockets and missile per day into Israel for at least a week, if a conflict escalated to that point.