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Israel tests anti-ballistic missiles

An Arrow anti-ballistic missile soars into the sky Sunday over Israel's Mediterranean coast.
An Arrow anti-ballistic missile soars into the sky Sunday over Israel's Mediterranean coast.

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel test-fired four Arrow anti-ballistic missiles Sunday, marking the start of joint exercises with the United States under the shadow of a possible military confrontation with Iraq.

The missiles were launched from a base south of Tel Aviv. The Israelis said they plan to fire more Arrow interceptor missiles to test the system's ability to destroy multiple incoming targets from different altitudes and directions.

Sunday's test of the Arrow was the 10th by Israel and the first time the $2 billion system is being tried with the U.S. military's Patriot air defense system.

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Patriot batteries failed to prevent 39 Iraqi Scud missiles from striking Israel.

The Israeli-U.S. exercise, dubbed Jennifer Cobra, will last two weeks, during which both countries hope to integrate successfully and test the Arrow and an upgraded Patriot system. A team of American military observers were on hand for the tests.

An Israeli military source said the exercises were planned some time ago and happen to coincide with the ongoing tensions between the United States and Iraq.

The tests send "a clear message" to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that "these systems together are a defense and serve as a deterrent. If Iraq sent a missile, it would likely fail this time to hit Israel," the source said.

Sources also said that U.S. warships equipped with the Aegis radar system, which will be integrated as a third line of defense, are in the Mediterranean.

CNN Correspondent Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.

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