An "Arrow 3" ballistic missile interceptor is seen during its test launch near Ashdod.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The former head of the Arrow missile project said the air force was correct to use the system to intercept Syrian surface-to-air missiles fired against Israeli jets early on Friday morning.
“While I hoped that the state would never need to use the system I am sure that the air force made the right choice in using the system,” Uzi Rubin told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
The Syrians claimed that one Israeli jet had been shot down and another damaged by SA-5 missiles, which was denied by the IDF, but the army did confirm the first use of Israel’s defense system to intercept a missile in the Jordan Valley.
The air force is investigating whether or not the use of Arrow was necessary given that the system was designed to intercept much larger and significant missiles, but was still used to successfully shoot down the Syrian projectile.
Former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak also questioned the use of the system on Saturday at a lecture in Beersheba saying “it could be that with more thorough thought, it wasn’t worth firing.”
But according to Rubin, the Arrow “was designed exactly” for what it was used for on Friday.
While the army has refused to clarify which system was used during the incident, Rubin told the Post that he believed it was the Arrow-2 system and not the Arrow-3.
“The system has changed since I left but the Arrow-3 system is too new” to have been used already, Rubin said.
“It was clear to us and clear to the United States, who gave us financial support for the project, that there was a need for the system. It was essential for the security of the State of Israel.”
The system, which has been operational since 2000, was designed to intercept heavy, long-range ground-to- ground ballistic missiles.
IDF test-launches Arrow 3 ballistic missile interceptor
Updates to the system have expanded its capabilities to intercept medium-range missiles and rockets.
In January, the Israel Air Force received the first Arrow- 3 interceptor, the most advanced Arrow system, which is designed to provide ultimate air defense by intercepting ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Twenty years after it entered service, Rubin said he wished there had been no need to use the system.
“There is always a first time for everything, but I hope we won’t need to use it in the future,” he said, adding that even despite Iran’s entry into Syria, the threats to Israel have not changed.
“We were aware and prepared for those threats for a long time. And we are still prepared for all and any eventualities.