(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
The average person's logic would hold that it would not be terrible to see an experiment fail. Even if the experiment in question is a test of a missile defense system. Why do we carry out tests? To see if something works.
However, this does not seem to be the logic which informs the defense establishment.
Yesterday morning the Arrow 2 interceptor was tested from Palmahim Beach. An aircraft flying above the middle of the Mediterranean Sea fired a target missile called a "Black Anchor" which was supposed to simulate a missile fired toward Israel.
Due to the limitations of Israel's territory, the missile was fired from west to east, although in Israel's threat scenarios long-range missiles would be fired from the east or the north - from Iran, Syria or Lebanon (Hezbollah).
The defense system fired an Arrow 2 missile at the target missile which was supposed to intercept it. If the missile had been intercepted, the test would have been deemed successful. If the missile was not intercepted while it was in the air, no matter what the reason, the test would be deemed a failure.
This has been the case in the past. When an interception was successful, the defense establishment rushed to take pride in the achievement and to immediately publish the pictures. However, this time, the defense establishment insisted on not defining the test as a failure.
In the press briefing, a senior official in the Defense Ministry said that "according to an initial investigation the test succeeded, but we still don't know if there was an interception. The inquiry will continue and the results will be known in the coming days."
This is a stuttering and twisted answer that is reminiscent of the medical joke, "the surgery was successful, but the patient died." Will they also explain during wartime that we will only know in the coming days if the missile shot at Israel was intercepted?
In the test of a missile interception the result is known clearly and immediately. If the simulation missile is intercepted, the test succeeded. If the missile did not explode in the air and fell to the ground - or in our case into the sea - the test failed.
Russian radar and observation stations did not hesitate to determine that the missile was not intercepted and fell into the sea, announcing that they identified a missile falling some 300 kilometers north of Tel Aviv. The likely reason for the malfunction is that the attempt to expand the range of the Arrow 2 failed.
The Arrow 2 is an antiquated missile which is approximately 15-years-old. It was originally intended to intercept Scud missiles with a conventional warhead whose range is 300-400 kilometers - the type which was in the arsenal of Syria and Iran back then.
The missile is the joint initiative of the Defense Ministry and the Pentagon, which has funded and continues to fund about 75 percent of the project. The missile is produced by Israel Aerospace Industries and has a radar produced by IAI subsidiary Elta Systems, with the cooperation of Elbit and Rafael.
In the mean time, Hezbollah also has obtained Scuds, and even more advanced missiles, while the range of Iran's missiles has improved dramatically. The regime in Tehran possesses a Shahab model ballistic missile with a range of 1200 kilometers that can hit any target in Israel.
Over the years, it has also been learned that Iran is striving to develop a nuclear warhead for Shahab missiles. Iran is a year, or at most a year-and-a-half from attaining this.
In Israel and the US, it was decided that, in order to contend with the Iranian Shahab, there is a need to develop a much more advanced Arrow missile. And thus, they began several years ago to work on developing the Arrow 3, which is intended to intercept missiles outside of the atmosphere at an altitude of 250 kilometers.
Until then, in order to provide some sort of answer to missiles with a range of more than 300 kilometers (David's Sling, whose development will be completed in about a year, has a range of 200 kilometers), it was decided to upgrade the Arrow 2. Notwithstanding the results of yesterday's test, the work to improve the missile will continue.