The massive Juniper Cobra 2016 exercise, a US-Israel air defense drill, concluded March 3. The drill ended just two days after Israel’s Defense Ministry announced it would be enhancing the capabilities of David’s Sling, a system designed to handle Russian- and Iranian-grade missiles (notably more advanced than the home-made rockets that Hamas and Hezbollah are known to utilize in engaging Israel), according to the Washington Post. The drill is the first of its kind to include David’s Sling, which is expected to come fully online during 2016, and also the first such drill involving six different air defense systems (Aegis, THAAD, Patriot, Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and the Iron Dome) in a single simulation, according to the Jerusalem Post. During Juniper Cobra’s closing ceremony, IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner tweeted an aerial salute to Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. “US European Command is charged with assisting in the defense of Israel?,” Breedlove said in a Pentagon briefing March 1 before heading himself to Israel, adding the US commitment to that mission “could not be more firm.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.