(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Israel fired a target missile used to test the Arrow ballistic missile defense system on Tuesday, but canceled the firing of an interceptor at the target, the Defense Ministry announced.
Defense officials said they decided to abort the firing of the interceptor due to the failure of a series of conditions to materialize, adding that the trial was “neither a success nor a failure.”
During the test, a target missile was fired at Israeli air space from over the Mediterranean Sea. In future trials, the Arrow system will be ordered to intercept incoming mock missiles, something that did not occur this time, the ministry added.
The ministry later clarified that during the trial, the target missile flew along its planned path and was tracked by Arrow, but that “the conditions for firing an interceptor were not ripe, and we therefore decided to class the trial as a target missile exercise only.”
Yair Ramati, of the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, said the trial was to have consisted of two parts, Ramati said. “The first part of the launch involved tracking the target missile, which was fired over the Mediterranean Sea toward Israel. In the second phase, the Arrow 3 interceptor was supposed to be fired after a series of conditions we set for the trial are met. At an early phase, we collectively decided that the conditions have not been met. In accordance to our criteria, we decided not to launch the Arrow 3 interceptor.”
He stressed that conditions for a trial are very different than those need for an operational launch. “This is not the first time that not all conditions are met for a trial,” Ramati added.
“This trial represents a milestone in the development of the system,” the Defense Ministry added.
Representatives of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency and of the Israeli and American defense industries were present during the trial. Some were from the MLM Division of Israel Aerospace Industries, the chief contractor of the Arrow program, which works in cooperation with IAI subsidiary Elta Systems.
The system’s fire management system is being developed by Elbit Systems’ Elisra subsidiary.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems produced the target missile, and Boeing works with IAIMLM in developing the missile defense system.
“The Arrow system is a central component in the multi-layered defense,” the Defense Ministry said. “It relies on four layers of defense: Iron Dome (operational), David’s Sling (under development), Arrow 2 (operational)...and Arrow 3 (under development).”
Trials of the Arrow 3 system, which intercepts missiles in space, will be held in the future, the ministry said.
Last month, the IDF announced that David’s Sling air defense system will soon be deployed for a trial period, before becoming operational.
David’s Sling can intercept short-range to medium-range rockets and missiles, including Hezbollah’s Katyusha rockets.
Its range of coverage is three times that of the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system.
The system will be deployed in various areas around Israel for a trial period, the IDF added.
After that, David’s Sling will also be set up to intercept hostile aircraft and missiles with longer ranges. Eventually, it should be able to intercept incoming cruise missiles as well.