Russian Radars Detected Joint Israeli-US Missile Drill
The Israeli Navy has reportedly carried out a joint missile defense exercise with the US in the Mediterranean, at the same time as Russian radars detected the launch of two "ballistic objects" towards the eastern Mediterranean.
The timing of the launch - with tension brewing over a possible US military intervention in Syria - is unlikely to be coincidental, and could be interpreted as a warning to the Syrian government against striking the Jewish state in retaliation for a western attack.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson claimed the launch was picked up at 10:16am Moscow time by an early warning radar station in the Black Sea, designed to detect missiles launched from Europe and Iran. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of the launch.
"The trajectory of these objects goes from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea toward the eastern part of the Mediterranean coast," according the ministry spokesman.
However, the nature of the incident was initially unclear, and CBS News quoted a US government spokesperson as saying his country had not launched any missiles.
Syrian security sources, quoted by Al Arabiya, reported that their radar systems had not detected anything, and the Russian Embassy in Damascus reported that there were no signs of a missile attack on the capital city.
An Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson initially said that Israeli radars hadn't picked up anything, and that the army had no knowledge of any such launch.
But the Israeli Defense Ministry later announced that a joint missile drill with the US had taken place at the time, indicating that that was what Russian radars picked up.
Israel later said that the launch was a successful launch of an Ankor-type test missile, by the Ministry of Defense and the US Missile Defense Agency.
It was carried out in the Mediterranean and from a test site in an IAF base in central Israel.
The launch tested improved abilities on an Ankor target missile and missile defense systems of the Arrow weapons system, including radars and the command and control array, were tested.
The Oren Adir radar detected the Ankor after its launch and transmitted its data to the fire management center, where it was followed by other means for detection and tracking.
The incident comes just a day after U.S. Navy aircraft carrier U.S.S Nimitz moved into the Red Sea, accompanied by five additional ships including the cruiser USS Princeton and the destroyers USS William P. Lawrence, USS Stockdale and USS Shoup. The fleet appears to have been deployed as part of preparations for a potential US strike on Syria.
The group of ships currently had no specific order to act but could be on hand should one be given.
Russia staunchly opposes any military intervention in Syria.