from the April 2013 issue

Arrow 3 Missile Test: Israel, U.S. Defense System Trial Completed

Israel and the U.S. recently carried out a successful test of the next-generation Arrow 3 missile defense system, for the first time sending an interceptor into outer space, where it could destroy missiles fired from Iran.

The Arrow 3 is part of a multilayered system that Israel is developing to protect against a range of missile threats, from short-range rockets in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon to medium and longer-range missiles in the hands of Syria and Iran. The Arrow system is being developed to protect against sophisticated Iranian-made Shahab ballistic missiles.

Israel's Defense Ministry said it was the first flight test of the Arrow 3 interceptor. It was conducted at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea. The system is about three years away from becoming operational.

"The Arrow 3 interceptor was successfully launched and flew an exo-atmospheric trajectory through space, in accordance with the test plan," it said in a statement. "The successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow 3 weapon system and provides further confidence in future Israeli defense capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat."

Iran's Shahab ballistic missile can carry a nuclear warhead and has a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), putting Israel and parts of Europe within range. With Iran suspected by the international community of trying to develop a nuclear weapon, the success of the Arrow is considered critical for Israel.

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran to be an existential threat, citing Iranian calls for Israel's destruction, its support for anti-Israel militant groups and its missile and nuclear technology. Teheran says its nuclear program is peaceful, a claim that Israel and many Western countries reject.

A senior Defense Ministry official said the test was conducted "100 percent successfully."

"This is the first time the interceptor with all of its equipment took off and flew, achieved its velocity and did the maneuver in space," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity under ministry regulations. "The Iranian missiles are a main factor to why this system was developed," he said, but he stressed that the test was not connected to a specific regional development.

The Arrow 3 is being developed by state-run Israel Aerospace Industries in conjunction with American aviation giant Boeing Co.

The Arrow 3, expected to be operational around 2016, would give Israel an additional layer of defense by targeting incoming missiles far closer to their time of launch. The Arrow 2 system, which intercepts targets inside the atmosphere, is already operational.

Last year, Israel also successfully tested a system designed to intercept missiles with ranges of up to 300 kilometers (180 miles). That system, called "David's Sling" and "Magic Wand," is expected to be operational next year.

Israel has also developed a system for intercepting short-range rockets. The "Iron Dome" successfully shot down hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip during eight days of fighting in November.

Test examines the performance and capabilities of the interceptor system, which can strengthen Israel's air defense against long-ranged missile threats. Watch a clip of the test simulation The Homa administration of the Mafat directorate in Israel's Ministry of Defense announced today that it carried out a successful test flight of the Arrow 3 interceptor this morning (Monday). The test was carried out in cooperation with the US Missile Defense Agency.

This was the first test flight of the Arrow 3, from the Arrow family of interceptors. The test was carried out by the Ministry of Defense from a testing site in Israel's central region. The test examined the performance and capabilities of the new system, which is considered innovative and revolutionary around the world, for the first time. The Israeli Ministry of Defense stated that these capabilities will allow the components existing in the Arrow weapon systems that are presently operational to deal with future threats to the state of Israel with greater efficiency.

Representatives from Israel's Ministry of Defense and the IAF participated in the test, as well as representatives from the US Department of Defense and the industries involved in the development of the system. The Arrow 3 system is a central part of Israel's multi-layered defense layout, which also includes the Iron Dome system, as well as the David's Sling and Arrow 2 systems.

The new system is intended to provide another layer of protection against missiles, provide more interception opportunities for the Arrow 2 system and strengthen Israel's air defense against long-range missiles.

Israel's Ministry of Defense further stated that "the success of this test represents an important cornerstone in Israel's operational ability to defend itself against expected threats in the arena. It should be emphasized that this is the initial test in a development process that will continue in the coming years. Additional tests are expected in the future, before the system is stationed for operational service."

Israel Aerospace Industry's Malam factory is the chief contractor for developing the system and the interceptors in the Arrow family, in cooperation with Boeing.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report April 2013

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