In face of Iran’s continued pursuit of a nuclear capability, the IDF has begun constructing a third Arrow missile battery near Tel Aviv in an effort to beef up missile defense ahead of a future conflict.

The new battery will consist of Arrow-2 missile interceptors and will work in conjunction with the Green Pine Radar.

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Israel already has two Arrow batteries - one is located in an Air Force base in the South and another near the city of Hadera in the North. The arrow is designated to intercept long-range missiles like the Shihab, Sajil and Scuds which make up the backbone of Iran and Syria’s arsenals.

Israeli Air Force sources said that the decision to deploy a third battery of the missile defense system was part of the IDF’s multi-year plan that was formulated almost five years ago. Additional batteries are expected to be added over the coming decade as well.

“The new battery provides another layer of protection and gives the air force the ability to launch more than one interceptor at an incoming target,” a senior IAF officer involved in missile defense said on Thursday.

The new battery will also come with the Citron Tree fire-control center which can be used to control the other two Arrow batteries deployed throughout the country.

“It will be able to control all of the other batteries from the new position so if there is a malfunction at the other sites we have backup,” the officer said. “In general, the new battery helps us disperse our assets and enables us to continue operating defense systems even if some of the other batteries are damaged during a conflict.”

The location of the new battery was not released by the IDF which only said that it was chosen in the center of the country since it “provides the utmost protection for long-range threats which Israel faces from a number of directions.”

Alongside the construction of the new battery, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), in conjunction with Boeing in the United States, is working on developing the Arrow 3, an upgraded version of the current missile interceptor which will be capable of intercepting enemy missiles farther away from Israel and at higher altitudes. The first flyout test of the new missile is scheduled for 2011.

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