Israel stepping up production of Arrow 3

US accidentally discloses classified position of secret missile defense base.

June 5, 2013 01:43
2 minute read.
Arrow 3 missile defense [archive].

Arrow 3 missile defense 370. (photo credit: Defense Ministry)

Amid the developing Iranian nuclear and missile threat, Israel is stepping up production of the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system, a defense figure revealed this week.

Col. Aviram Hason, who heads the Defense Ministry’s upper-tier missile defense program, said at a conference held by the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies on Monday that the Arrow 3 program was being fast-tracked so that it would be ready to meet the threat on time.

Prior to Hason’s comments, the expectation was that the first batch of four Arrow 3 batteries will come into service between 2014 and 2016. Four additional upgraded batteries, carrying more interceptors, could be built later.

“We want Israel to have a nearly full defense layer against any future or current threats,” Hason said at the conference, which examined modern aerial threats. The colonel informed the audience that the Arrow 3 system could operate over “outer ring” countries that do not border Israel, such as Iran.

An Arrow 3 missile was successfully test-launched in Israel in February.

Traveling at twice the speed of a tank shell, the Arrow 3 interceptor turns into a space vehicle after leaving the atmosphere. It carries out several swift maneuvers as it locks on to its target. It then lunges directly at the incoming projectile for a head-on collision, relying on the kinetic impact alone to destroy its target.

Hason said that as they travel upwards, interception missiles would know the locations of all surrounding aircraft, and can automatically plan their flight trajectory to avoid accidents. Before being launched, radars and sensors would inform a central air force command center of the threat, which would then decide which air defense system to activate, he added.

Meanwhile, Jane’s Defense Weekly revealed this week that an American tender accidentally exposed classified Israeli plans to construct an Arrow 3 launch base at Tal Shahar in central Israel.

The tender – made available by the US Federal Business Opportunities website – called on American defense companies to bid for a project to construct a $25 million facility on behalf of the Israel Air Force, and contained detailed building plans. Although the tender did not specifically say the facility was designed as an Arrow 3 launch site, Jane’s said that is “almost certainly” its purpose. The sensitive information has since been deleted from the defense journal’s website.

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