Eastern Mediterranean: Israeli Test Missile Lands Near US Navy Cruiser

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Tuesday, May 2 10:46 PM SGT

Israeli test missile landed near US Navy cruiser: Pentagon official with confirmation ---


An Israeli ballistic missile landed in the vicinity of a US Navy Aegis cruiser last month during a no-notice test in the eastern Mediterranean, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

The Washington Post, which first reported the April 6 incident, said the surprise test launch left the crew aboard the USS Anzio momentarily afraid that the ship was under attack.

"Israel in fact conducted a no notice exercise on the 6th of April in which they are said to have fired a Jericho 1 missile that landed in the eastern Mediterranean," a Pentagon official confirmed.

"The USS Anzio was approximately 40 miles (75 kilometers) away from where it splashed down," he said.

The Anzio, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art Aegis radar tracking and battle management system, detected the missile soon after launch, the Post said.

"During the first 90 percent of the launch, it looked like the missile was coming at you," the Post quoted a defense official as saying.

A defense official told the Post the splash down was "pretty damn close for a missile."

"The warhead wasn't live, but it still could make a hell of a hole," the official said.

It was the third time in two years that the Israelis have conducted a "no-notice" missile launch in the vicinity of a US warship, defense officials said.

The missile was launched from a missile-testing facility at Yavne, Israel, the officials said.

The Israelis should have been aware of US warships in the Eastern Mediterranean because the Anzio and another Aegis cruiser were en route with the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower to participate in a joint exercise with Israel.

"They knew we were there, for God's sake," a defense official said.

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy told the daily that the Israeli military follow strict safety guidelines in its tests both over land and sea. "The area of the test is thoroughly checked," said spokesman Mark Regev.

A senior US official said the US government was handling the incident through diplomatic channels.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), May 03, 2000


This is not only an irritating habit, but dangerous.

-- Wellesley (wellesley@freeport.net), May 03, 2000.

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