Juniper Falcon focused on scenarios that would see the deployment of US forces in Israel under fire during conflict.
Two US Air Force C-130J Super Hercules from the 37th Airlift Squadron landed in Israel last week with equipment and troops from US Air Forces in Europe and Air Force Africa Airmen and ended on Tuesday.
Juniper Falcon focused on scenarios that would see the deployment of US forces in Israel under fire during conflict and saw troops train in several locations across the country.
According to a statement released by EUCOM, the drill, “ serves as an opportunity for US military personnel and the IDF to exercise together and learn from one another” and “represents another step in the deliberate and strategic relationship between the US and Israel and contributes to overall regional stability.”
During the drill Lt.-Gen. Steven L. Basham, Deputy Commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa came to Israel and met with senior IDF officials including the head of the Operation’s Division Brig.-Gen. Oded Basiok, the Head of the IAF Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin and the Commander of the Air Defense Division Brig.-Gen. Gilad Biran.According to the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit, the officers discussed the fighting between Israel and Hamas in May and the conclusions the military came to following the fighting “with the aim of learning and deepening Israeli-American cooperation.”
The 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls saw over 4,360 rockets and missiles fired into Israel from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, around 400 munitions daily – almost four times the daily average of rockets fired per day during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge and 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Of the 4,360 launches, some 1,100 of them heading towards populated areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome. A total of 12 civilians and one soldier were killed during the fighting. While most of the rockets, mortars, and missiles landed in open areas in southern Israel, 120 rockets were fired towards central Israel including Tel Aviv.
The IDF has said that while they struck dozens of Hamas targets, including weapons manufacturing plants and multi-barrel rocket launchers during the fighting, they were not able to destroy the group’s rocket arsenal.
Juniper Falcon “is in accordance with long-standing bilateral agreements between US European Command and the Israel Defense Forces,” EUCOM said in a statement, adding that it was a “long-planned event” that is “designed to test simulated emergency response procedures, ballistic missile defense and crisis response assistance in the defense of Israel.”
Washington and Israel have signed an agreement which would see the US come to assist Israel with missile defense in times of war and a week before the drill began the IDF released an updated intelligence assessment that said that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group has an arsenal of between 130,000-150,000 rockets and missiles and could launch some 3,000 projectiles a day for at least a week should fighting break out.
The exercise was a continuation of a virtual air defense drill that took place in February with IDF troops operating in Israel and American troops in Germany where EUCOM is based.
Despite corona affecting the ability to hold in-person training, the IAF took part in close to 20 drills in the past year.