Quartet envoy Tony Blair and PM Netanyahu 311 (R).
(photo credit: Pool / Reuters)
The Defense Ministry successfully carried out its first test of the Arrow 3
missile defense interceptor on Monday, firing it into space from a coastal
military launch pad in central Israel.
Set to become operational around
2016, the Arrow 3 operates in outer space, traveling at twice the speed of a
tank shell to leave the atmosphere.
It is designed to seek out and
destroy Iranian Shahab 3 missiles – including any carrying nuclear warheads, as
well as other longrange projectiles.
A senior defense source said the
interceptor took off around 8 a.m. over the Mediterranean Sea.
obtained hypersonic speed and reached an altitude of 100 kilometers, entering
space. It followed various objects, such as stars, and gained further altitude.
Its engine stopped after six minutes,” the source said.
The test was led
by technicians from Israel Aerospace Industries together with a team from the US
Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency.
The effort is being
coordinated by the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense
“The Israeli and American teams congratulated one another
warmly,” the source said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu heaped praise on the successful test.
“Israel’s hand is always
outstretched in peace, but we are always preparing for the other possibilities,”
he said after meeting with visiting Quartet envoy Tony Blair.
context, I want to offer my congratulations on the successful test of the Arrow
3,” the prime minister continued.
Netanyahu said the system reflected
Israel’s technological and security capabilities, the abilities of its military-
industrial complex and its close cooperation with the US.
missile defense system] will enable us – in any scenario of peace or with
regards to those who want to oppose peace – to contribute to the security of
Israel’s citizens,” he said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak congratulated
those involved in the test.
“This is an important milestone for the State
of Israel’s multi-layered defense system, which includes Iron Dome, David’s
Sling, Arrow 2 and Arrow 3,” Barak said.
Once it breaks free of the
atmosphere, the interceptor breaks off from its launch missile and turns into a
space vehicle that carries out several swift maneuvers as it locks onto its
target. It then lunges directly at the incoming projectile for a head-on
Monday’s missile test was designed to examine Arrow 3’s
It did not intercept a dummy
Weighing less than half of the Arrow 2 missile, the Arrow 3
creates an additional missile defense layer in space. Together with the Arrow 2
system, which intercepts missiles in the upper atmosphere, Arrow 3 gives the
military two to three opportunities to intercept incoming longrange
The Arrow 3 does not need to know the exact location of the
enemy missile when it takes off to intercept it. Once in space, it rapidly
locates the target.
US funding assistance is crucial to the development
of the project.
The US has earmarked $250 million for four Arrow 3
batteries, and is set to examine a request for four more batteries at a cost of
Future batteries are expected to hold more interceptors, making
them more expensive than the first batch.
The US gave Israel $211m. for
development of the Arrow 3 system in 2012, and will transfer $269m. to this end
“We are in the arms race. We hope to be one step ahead,
technologically,” a defense source said.
Israel is working to create a
multilayered missile defense shield, consisting of the Arrow 3 at the outer
perimeter, followed by Arrow 2, which is already operational.
Sling (also known as Magic Wand) system, still under development, is designed to
stop intermediate-range rockets and missiles, and the Iron Dome is in place to
intercept short-range and medium-range rockets.Herb Keinon contributed
to this report. •