U.S. and Israeli military officials said on Thursday they have launched a month-long joint military drill that simulates a missile attack on Israel.
The "Juniper Cobra 2018" exercise was launched on Sunday, a military spokesperson said, adding it is the largest drill of its kind.
The biennial drill is jointly held by the Israeli military and the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM).
As part of the exercise, some 2,500 U.S. troops routinely based in Europe were deployed in Israel as well as about 2,000 Israeli Aerial Defense troops, logistics units, medical forces and other Israel Defense Forces (IDF) units.
"For more than four weeks, they will train shoulder to shoulder, the same as we will fight in times of crisis. It's not just about an exercise," Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, Israel's air defense commander, told reporters on Thursday.
The exercise simulates a scenario in which Israel is being attacked on several fronts, including by precision-guided ballistic missiles from Iran.
Two U.S. vessels arrived in Israel to participate in the drill. On Tuesday, the USS Iwo Jima took position off the coast of Israel. On Thursday, the Mount Whitney command and control ship docked at the Haifa port, the spokesperson said. Aboard it, there were more than 500 servicemen and women, half of them from the senior command of the U.S. sixth fleet.
It is the ninth Cobra exercise that has taken place.
A military notice said that the participators are performing together computerized simulations of a variety of rocket threat scenarios in different regions.
The simulations include testing of the anti-ballistic missile system Arrow, Iron Dome anti-rocket system, the medium-range interceptor Patriot missile system, and David's Sling, which was designed to intercept medium-range missiles from southern Lebanon's Hezbollah militants and became operational in April 2017.