Austere Challenge 12 concludes with live-fire exercise

Exercise will test the Patriot missile batteries, responding to a simulated aerial threat

Date: 11/12/2012, 10:08 PM     Author: Yair Barzilai

Today, U.S. and Israeli forces held the concluding exercise of Austere Challenge 12 (AC-12), the combined U.S. Israeli air defense exercise. The live-fire exercise, held at Palmachim airbase, involved U.S. made Patriot missile batteries and rehearsed responding to potential aerial threats, including ballistic missiles and enemy aircrafts.

“The American Patriot systems are being operated to improve our capability to protect ourselves and to defend ourselves against incoming missiles” explained Minister of Defense Ehud Barak at the onset of the exercise. “We have here with us Colonel Richmond and the Israeli commanders working together with their crews to make sure that should we face a real test in the future, then we will be both ready and effective.”

AC-12, launched on October 25th 2012, is the largest combined exercise between the IDF (Zahal) and the U.S. Armed Forces to date. This live-fire exercise heralds the end of AC-12, just over 2 weeks after the exercise began.

Colonel Stephen J Richmond, commander of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, provided insight into the exercise and his general impressions from the cooperation with his Israeli counterparts to the IDF (Zahal) website.

“This has been a tremendous training opportunity for both the U.S. 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command as well as the Israeli 167th Active Defense Wing to continue our co-operational partnership, to exercise our interoperability, and continue to reinforce the strong bond that both of our nations have,” said Col. Richmond. “It’s culminating this week with a live-fire exercise, in which both the U.S and Israel will each fire four PAC 2 interceptors against an aerial threat, a target threat, which I think is a tremendous way to end this event.”

Col. Richmond continued, providing some insights on the conclusion of AC-12. “I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of [AC-12] and of the way it had been conducted, ” said Col. Richmond. “The IDF (Zahal) as a whole, specifically the IAF, are truly professional. They have proven it in combat with the Iron Dome system, of which we have actually seen successful engagements while we we’ve been here. They understand their craft, and are ready to employ their systems when their nation calls upon them.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also spoke of the Iron dome’s recent success, saying, “We are fighting with our newest system, the Iron Dome, protecting against short-range missiles coming out of Gaza on a daily basis.  We hope that [this escalation] will be over quickly without a need to broaden it or intensify it.”

Commander of the IAF Air Defense, Brig. Gen. Shachar Shochat, spoke of the Air Defense’s readiness, saying, “I am confident that we can protect the citizens of Israel. We are prepared for the moment of truth.”