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US, Israel kick off largest ever military exercise as Iran nuclear talks falter

As Iran turns to Russia for advanced fighter jets, the race is on to ensure the United States can actually stop Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — and to dissuade the new Israeli government from acting unilaterally.
US army officers stands in front a US Patriot missile defence system during a joint Israeli-US military exercise "Juniper Cobra" at the Hatzor Airforce Base on March 8, 2018.

The United States and Israel are set to kick off the largest war games ever held between the two nations’ militaries on Monday as the Biden administration’s attempts to negotiate a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement have faltered and Tehran has turned to Russia to shore up its own defense capabilities.

Four nuclear-capable US B-52 bombers, F-35 stealth fighters, F-15s, F-18s and an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS George H.W. Bush are among the 142 US and Israeli aircraft and 12 warships participating in the weeklong event, dubbed Juniper Oak 23.2.

Some 6,400 US personnel and more than 1,100 members of the Israel Defense Forces are set to take part, a senior US defense official said.

An integrated US-Israeli command will oversee long-range air coordination over the Mediterranean, including aerial refueling and electronic warfare attacks, and culminating in a live-fire exercise involving “suppression of enemy air defenses” and simulated strikes on strategic targets, the senior US defense official said.

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