- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 16 (UPI) — Israel is borrowing two Patriot anti-aircraft batteries from Germany and expects them within a month, the Defense Ministry reported Thursday.

Israel has two batteries of Arrow missile interceptors that it developed with U.S. funding. The Arrow is designed for high altitude interceptions and though it has been considered operational since October 2000 it has never been tested in battle.

The Israelis therefore want to augment their missile defenses with Patriot batteries. Israel reportedly has had at least four such batteries, and the United States recently sent over more Patriot units that are now training with the Israelis in operation Juniper-Cobra.

The U.S. Patriot units are expected to remain in Israel until after a possible military confrontation in Iraq.

A U.S. battery was seen stationed near Arad, in the northern Negev, where an Iraqi Scud missile landed in the 1991 Gulf War, Israeli media reported.

A Defense Ministry official said Israel approached the Germans several years ago when it learnt they were going to take those batteries off their order of battle. The Germans agreed to lend them to Israel, free of charge. The Israelis will have the two batteries for two years, the Defense Ministry's spokeswoman Rahel Naidek-Ashkenazi said.

Israeli crews will operate them and experts are going to Germany, apparently to familiarize themselves with the German modifications.

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