US deploys advanced anti-missile system in Israel

The American and Israeli militaries say the U.S. has deployed a highly advanced anti-missile defense system in Israel for the first time

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, as a testament to the strength of the two countries' military ties, saying that it makes Israel "even stronger in order to deal with near and distant threats from throughout the Middle East."

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli army spokesman, told reporters that a THAAD battery, flown in from the U.S. and Europe, arrived Monday at an air force base in southern Israel. He said that the defense battery has only been installed a few times elsewhere in the world, and tested the U.S. ability to carry out accelerated deployment of such powerful and complex weapons.

Israel already has an advanced multi-layered missile defense system, capable of intercepting everything from advanced guided long-range missiles outside the atmosphere to short-range unguided rockets fired from neighboring Gaza.

During this week's drill, the THAAD battery, which shoots down long and intermediate range missiles, will bolster Israel's existing systems. The deployment is temporary, and for now, the THAAD system will not be permanently integrated into the Israeli defense shield, Conricus said.

The U.S. military echoed said the deployment demonstrates the United States' "continued commitment to Israel's regional security" and more broadly shows that U.S. forces can "respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time."

Israeli officials have repeatedly raised concerns about Iran's development of long-range missiles as well as Hezbollah's vast arsenal of rockets and missiles in neighboring Lebanon.