US Deploys THAAD Missile System to Israel (PHOTO, VIDEO)

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In a statement Monday, the United States European Command said the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system was done at the direction of acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan as a sign of the United State's commitment to Israel's regional security.

The joint drill, according to the statement, gives the IDF an opportunity to work in "cooperation with U.S. forces in order to enhance coordination between the two militaries and to strengthen the ability to defend Israeli airspace".

"Israel-US ties have never been stronger".

The objective of the exercise was to test the speed of deployment and coordinate with Israel's own air defense systems.

However, Conricus said the drill is not related to any specific or current threat.

U.S. forces are to be stationed in Israel, Europe and the United States to operate the system in close cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces as part of its deployment, the U.S. European Command said.

The THAAD will be deployed in southern Israel, but officials declined to say specifically where and for how long.

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The move is meant to demonstrate the United States' ongoing commitment to Israel's security, the statement added.

The deployment, which began this month, was meant to test the US military's ability to rapidly deploy such weapons around the world, a spokeswoman for US European Command said on Monday.

The deployment is a part of a month-long joint exercise between the two countries, which includes not just equipment but also USA personnel, who will be working on operational procedures for Israel's air defence technology all throughout the country. "I welcome the joint drill".

"It's also an opportunity for the IDF to practice integrating advanced American air defense systems into the IAF Air Defense Array".

The first phase of Saudi Arabia's long awaited purchase of an advanced U.S. missile defence system has been finalised with the formal awarding of a contract, the media reported on Tuesday.

Washington and Israel have signed an agreement which would see the U.S. come to assist Israel with missile defense in times of war and a year ago 3,000 American troops took part in Juniper Cobra, which simulated a massive missile attack on the Israeli homefront.

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