The Defense Ministry held a successful missile drill on Tuesday morning in the Mediterranean Sea and in a testing area at an Israel Air Force base in the central region.

Russia’s announcement that its navy identified the missile launches forced the ministry to acknowledge the test.

A senior Israeli defense source said the test had been planned well in advance, and was part of a drill program.

The test was conducted with the assistance of representatives from the US Missile Defense Agency and the Pentagon.

The experiment, conducted by the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, began at 9:15 a.m. It involved the firing and tracking of a Sparrow target missile, which is used to simulate incoming enemy projectiles.

“The experiment tested enhanced capabilities of a new type of target missile from the Sparrow series,” the ministry said. “Arrow anti-missile defense systems, including radars and a command and control system, were also tested.”

Before the ministry’s announcement, Moscow said it had detected two ballistic missiles launched from the same area of the sea.

“Israel routinely fires missiles or drones off its shores to test its own ballistic defense capabilities,” a US official said in Washington.

The missile was picked up by the IDF’s Magnificent Pine radar system, which serves the Arrow ballistic missile batteries, and has better detection capabilities than its predecessor radar, called Green Pine.

In Tuesday’s test, Magnificent Pine passed on the incoming missile’s stats to an interception command center, which observed and analyzed the projectile’s progress. Additional detection and traction systems followed the missile’s path at the same time.

Officials from corporations involved in the project, which is led by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, also participated in the test.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Israel had to work to maintain its military edge, and “this necessitates field trials and, accordingly, a successful trial was conducted to test our systems. And we will continue to develop and to research and to equip the IDF with the best systems in the world.”

Arrow designer Uzi Rabin said tests of the anti-missile system are planned “long, long in advance” and generally go unnoticed. “What apparently made the difference today is the high state of tension over Syria and Russia’s unusual vigilance,” he told Reuters.

Israeli defense officials are developing four layers of missile defenses: The Iron Dome system against short- and medium-range rockets, David’s Sling (under development) against medium- and longrange rockets, the Arrow 2 antiballistic shield, which intercepts projectiles in the upper atmosphere, and the Arrow 3 system (under development), which will intercept enemy missiles in space.

An Arrow 3 missile was successfully test-launched in Israel in February. Traveling at twice the speed of a tank shell, the Arrow 3 interceptor turns into a space vehicle after leaving the atmosphere. It carries out several swift maneuvers as it locks on to its target. It then lunges directly at the incoming projectile for a head-on collision, relying on the kinetic impact to destroy its target.

Rafael developed the Sparrow missile series, while the Arrow defense batteries are being developed by the Malam factory of Israel Aerospace Industries.

The Magnificent Pine radar was developed by Elta Systems, a subsidiary of IAI, while the command and control center used in the test was created by Tadiran Electronic Systems, a subsidiary of Elbit.

Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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