TEL AVIV, — Dozens of U.S. and Israeli soldiers, backed by a full array of anti-missile systems, took part in simulated war games here aimed at honing combined defenses against the looming Iranian threat.
The weeklong computerized war games were conducted in mid-December at the Joint Active Defense Battle Lab, a U.S.- and Israeli-funded facility developed and operated by Elisra’sTadiran Electronic Systems. Fought out by an Israel Air Force air defense brigade and the U.S. Army’s Germany-based 357th Air Missile Defense Detachment, the drill involved the most extensive use thus far of operational interceptors and support systems, including the AN/TPY-2 X- Band radar deployed in ‘s
Operational systems included the Israeli Arrow and Patriot PAC-2 interceptors, U.S. Navy SM-3/Aegis seabased defenses and the U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and PAC-3 systems. In addition to the Israeli Green Pine and U.S. X-Band radars, the simulation used data from early warning satellites and Israeli battle management systems deployed in support of ‘s national missile defense network.
Sources from ‘s Ministry of Defense (MoD) Missile Defense Organization and the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said the simulated drills tested bilateral abilities to respond under multiple ballistic missile attack scenarios. Neither nor Israeli officials would detail specific scenarios or lessons learned from the war game, a precursor to the large-scale, combined live and simulated Juniper Cobra exercise planned for later this year.
“We, together with MDA, are trying to hone readiness in the event that the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy – together with their advanced systems – may need to come here and work with us to defend against the Iranian threat,” anMoD official said. The official said the war game allowed and Israeli operators to hone operational concepts, become more comfortable with one another, and more closely coordinate rules of engagement and command-and-control procedures.
U.S. Navy Lt Cmdr. Corey Barker, media chief for U.S. European Command, characterized last month’s drill as a routine battle management training exercise conducted within the long-established framework of U.S.-Israeli strategic cooperation.
“The more defense platforms we have to train with, the greater value will be gained from the exercises,” he said.
MDA spokesman Richard Lehner said the defensive systems “deployed” in the war games were actually simulated representations of the real systems.
“When conducting these exercises, operators participate using generic representations of systems with capabilities that have been generated by the [battle lab].” Moshe Patel, senior director for the Elisra Group’s C4I systems unit, said the Joint Active Defense Battle Lab demonstrated its ability to simulate huge training exercises based on multiple, extremely complex scenarios.
“From a technical perspective, we can simulate the operational performance, logistical requirements and command and control aspects of any system and any threat that the MDA or the MoD wants us to simulate,” Patel said. “All we need is data from the sensors, data from the interceptors and threat data presented from the system itself, and we can generate a theater of operations that very closely resembles reality.” In addition to operational training, such as that conducted during last month’s war game, Patel said the joint battle lab – formerly known as the Israel Test Bed – is constantly being used by MoD to test new technologies and capabilities planned for upgraded versions of the Arrow and future Israeli active defense systems.
Developed as part of the U.S.-Israel Arrow program, the Joint Active Defense Battle Lab has been operational since 1992. The 400-squaremeter site is located at Tadiran Electronic System’s headquarters at , south of here.
In recent years, the firm has been working with the Israel Air Force to develop and integrate special algorithms – similar to artificial intelligence – to assist in scenarios where the battle may test the limits of human decision-making.
The laboratory is designed to accommodate man-in-the-loop war gaming, fully autonomous missile defense simulations, or a combination of the two. Moreover, the lab can generate ballistic missile threats based on Tadiran’s extensive library, or on new intelligence data that can be programmed into the system immediately prior to or during drills.
“It is the most advanced battle lab in the world to simulate active defense against ballistic missiles,” said ShlomoYariv, Elisra vice president and Tadiran Systems general manager.
Patel said the company has begun marketing discussions with prospective international customers, but that all sales would need to be reviewed and approved by Israeli and export licensing authorities.
“Not too many nations are aware … that even before they procure a missile defense system, they will need a lab like this to develop and hone operational concepts,” Patel said.
“Even countries that have purchased off-the-shelf intercepting systems like the Patriot PAC-3 will find this an extremely important tool for building an architecture and ensuring interoperability.”