The Ministry of Defense carried out its first successful test of the Arrow 3
missile defense interceptor on Monday morning, firing it into space from a coastal military
launching pad in central Israel.
Set to become
operational in around 2016, the Arrow 3 missile defense system operates in
space, traveling at twice the speed of a tank shell to leave the atmosphere. It
is designed to seek and destroy Iranian Shihab 3 missiles, as well as other
A senior defense source said the interceptor took
off at around 8 a.m. on Monday morning over the Mediterranean Sea. "It
obtained hypersonic speed, and reached an altitude of 100 kilometers, entering
space. It followed various objects, such as stars, and gained further
altitude. Its engine stopped after six minutes," the source
The test was led by technicians from the Israel Aerospace
Industries, together with a team from the US Department of Defense's Missile
Defense Agency. The effort is being coordinated by the Ministry of Defense's
Israel Missile Defense Organization.
"The Israeli and American teams
congratulated one another warmly," the source said.
Defense Minister Ehud
Barak congratulated those involved in the test, saying, "This is an important
milestone for the state of Israel's multi-layered defense system, which includes
Iron Dome, David's Sling, Arrow 2 and Arrow 3."
Once it breaks free of the
Earth's atmosphere, the interceptor breaks off from its launching missile, and
turns into a space vehicle that carries out several swift maneuvers as it locks
on to its target, before lunging directly at the incoming projectile for a
head-on collision.Video: Archive
The test was designed to examine the Arrow 3's fly-out capablities, though no dummy missile was intercepted.
Weighing less half of the Arrow 2 missile, the Arrow 3 creates
an additional missile defense layer in space. Together with the Arrow 2 system,
Arrow 3 gives the military two to three opportunities to intercept long-range
The Arrow 3 does not need to know the exact location of the
incoming missile when it takes off to intercept it. Once in space, it locates
the target rapidly.
US funding assistance is crucial for the development
of the project.
The US has earmarked 250 million dollars for four Arrow 3
batteries, and is set to examine a request for four more batteries at a cost of
680 million dollars. Future batteries are expected to hold more interceptors,
making them more expensive than the first batch.
The US gave Israel 211
million dollars for development of the Arrow 3 system in 2012, and will transfer
269 million dollars in 2013.
"We are in arms race. We hope to be one step
ahead, technologically," a defense source said.
Israel is working to
create a multi-layered missile defense shield, consisting of the Arrow 3 at the
outer perimeter, followed by Arrow 2, which stops ballistic missiles in the
upper atmosphere. Lower down, the David's Sling (also known as Magic Wand)
system, still under development, is designed to stop intermediate rockets and
missiles, and the Iron Dome is in place to intercept short-range and