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Thu, Jul 10, 2008

Israel Shows Off Reconnaissance Plane As Iran Lobs More Missiles

Tensions Escalate Between Countries

Two can play at that game. In response to a second straight day of missile tests by its belligerent Islamic neighbor, on Thursday the state of Israel publicly displayed the advanced reconnaissance plane it says can keep a close watch over goings-on in Iran. The unveiling comes as tensions between the two countries, and the US, continue to increase.

FOX News reports state-run Israel Aerospace Industries planned to show off the "Eitam," a highly-modified Gulfstream G550 fitted with sophisticated intelligence-gathering systems (above), during an in-house exhibit Thursday.

Israel's move is the latest in an escalating war of words -- and actions -- concerning Iran. On Thursday, Iran launched a second battery of short-and-medium-range missiles near the Strait of Hormuz, following up its firing of nine missiles the day before. The Strait is an important strategic waterway, used to transport some 40 percent of the world's oil supply, according to ABC News.

Iran maintains the tests were purely defensive in nature, to show the country is capable of retaliating against an Israeli -- or US -- attack. Few in Washington or Tel Aviv believe it, however.

"We are sending a message to Iran that we will defend American interests and the interests of our allies," US Secretary Of State Condoleeza Rice said Wednesday, on the third day of her brief trip to Eastern Europe to shore up support for a US missile shield there.

US officials confirmed Thursday Iran is expected to take delivery of a similar, Russian-made missile shield by the end of the year.

Israel says it will attack Iranian nuclear facilities if the country continues to develop technology that could be used to create an atomic warhead. Iran says its use of nuclear power is peaceful in nature.

FMI: www.iai.co.il

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