Arrow 2 missile 248.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel and the US will hold a joint test of the Arrow missile over the Pacific Ocean in what will be the first trial of the system with a target with a range of more than 1,000 kilometers, further than the test sites over the Mediterranean could allow.
According to a US defense official quoted by Reuters, the test, which will take place sometime in the coming days off of the coast of central California, will be the third trial of the Arrow conducted by Israel in the United States. He said the Federal Aviation Administration had warned aircraft to stay clear of the area.
Israel is "limited to the range of the missile they can test in the eastern Mediterranean. There's a safety issue," US Army Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, the director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, was quoted by Reuters as saying. "That's the primary purpose of them coming to the United States to use our test range."
O'Reilly added that the test would also afford "the opportunity to have the Patriot system, the THAAD system and the Aegis system all interacting with the Arrow system, so that we're demonstrating full interoperability as we execute this test."
The unnamed US official also said that although the test would be carried out under American auspices and would make use of the "sensor assets" of US missile systems, it was still mainly Israel's test.
In April, the Israel Air Force conducted its 17th test of the newly upgraded Arrow 2 missile. Officials said it was capable of intercepting an Iranian nuclear missile.
April's test was the first time a modified version of the Arrow 2 was launched and operated in conjunction with a new and more advanced model of the Green Pine radar system.
The high-powered American X-Band radar, deployed in the Negev Desert in late 2008 as a farewell gift from then-US president George W. Bush, also participated in the test and tracked the incoming target.
The test was conducted jointly by the IAF and the US Missile Defense Agency. Israel Aerospace Industries is developing the Arrow in cooperation with Boeing.
In May, The Jerusalem Post reported that the US would provide the full funding for the development and production of the next-generation Arrow 3 anti-missile system.
The Arrow 3 will be a longer-range version of the Arrow defense system currently in IDF operation. It will be capable of intercepting incoming enemy missiles at higher altitudes and farther away from Israel.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.