For the second time in just over a month, the Defense Ministry has called off a test of the latest Arrow-3 system, the ministry announced in a statement on Wednesday morning.
Moshe Patel, director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, said that the test of the Arrow-3 – a joint Defense Ministry and American Missile Defense Agency project – was cut short after a problem was recognized in the transfer of data from the ground test array.
The interceptor missile was never launched and therefore the test engineers declared it as a “No Test,” read a statement by the Defense Ministry.
Patel stressed that the test was not a failed test as the interceptor missile was never launched.
In December, a test for the system was halted after a flaw in a target missile was discovered, where the simulator missile – which was supposed to simulate a ballistic missile fired at Israel – was fired, but it quickly became clear that it was not functioning as expected.
Similar to Wednesday’s test, it was stopped before the Arrow system could be tested.
According to Boaz Levy – the general manager and executive VP of Israel Aerospace Industries’ Systems, Missiles & Space Group – the problem that was discovered during the December test was fixed and was not related to Wednesday’s flaw.
The Arrow-3 development program is one of the joint programs between Israel and the United States and was co-managed by the US Missile Defense Agency and IMDO, a division of the Defense Ministry.
The primary contractor for the integration and development of the Arrow Weapon System is MLM of Israel Aerospace Industries, together with America’s Boeing, Elta, Elbit Systems, IMI Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems,.
The latest generation of the Arrow-3 system is believed to have better intercepting capabilities, performing at a much higher altitude and much further away from Israeli soil. Further trials of the system are expected as Israel will continue to develop additional capabilities for the system.
In July, the US House of Representatives passed a $696 billion defense policy bill, designating $705 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act increased spending on defense programs by $105m. and specified that funding be allocated to several Israeli programs, including the Arrow-3 system.
The Arrow-3 is a highly maneuverable system designed to provide ultimate air defense by intercepting ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere, and is considered one of the world’s best interceptors due to its breakthrough technological capabilities.
The Arrow-3 is the only interceptor that does carry a warhead yet intercepts an incoming missile by crashing into it.
According to the Defense Ministry, Wednesday’s failed test has no effect on the Arrow-2 or Arrow-3 system which the Israel Air Force officially received last year.
The Arrow-3 forms the uppermost layer of Israel’s multi-layered defense system along with the Arrow-2, David’s Sling and the Iron Dome system. Together the systems provide Israel with a protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short and mid-range missiles used by terrorist groups in Gaza and Hezbollah as well as the threats posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles.
The first use of the Arrow-2 system occurred in April when the system was launched to intercept a Syrian regime air defense that had fired three surface-to-air missiles toward IAF jets.