After two canceled trials in as many months, a flight test of the Arrow-3 Weapons System was successfully carried out on Monday morning, led by Israel Aerospace Industries in collaboration with the air force.
The Defense Ministry announced that the test of the system – designed to defend against ballistic missile threats outside the atmosphere – was conducted at 2:30 a.m. at a test site in the country’s center.
According to Boaz Levy, the general manager and executive vice president of Aerospace Industries Systems, Missiles & Space Group, it was a “very complex” test where the interceptor missile was launched from the atmosphere and flew to its orbit deep in space. “During the interception test, we imagined a full operational scenario. In other words, the entire weapons system has been proven in this experiment. The interceptor itself flew a course as if it were heading towards a real target in the sky. If there was a real target there, it would have hit it.”
Levy said the Arrow-3 “successfully carried out everything that had to be done during its flight and we are very satisfied with the results. This simulated target is difficult in its interception aspect, and this is the future threat that could threaten Israel.”
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. It is the only interceptor that does carry a warhead but intercepts an incoming missile by crashing into it.
Moshe Patel, the director of Israel Missile Defense Organization, said that the test enabled the country to advance its goal of carrying out a series of interception tests in Alaska this year.
The tests, which will be carried out in cooperation with the US Missile Defense Agency, will take place on the Alaskan island of Kodiak where the system will be tested against similar but larger scale interceptions, against targets similar in behavior to advanced ballistic missiles being developed by Iran.
The Arrow 3
“We will be able to do there what we cannot do here for safety reasons,” he said, adding that “in Alaska we will have a full trial with fewer safety restrictions than we do here in Israel.”
“The idea was mainly to prepare the launch array for the tests in Alaska and to actually complete what has not yet been tested in the two previous experiments,” Patel added referring to the two prior planned tests of the system which had been halted in December and January after flaws were discovered.
In December, a test for the system was halted after a flaw in 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 expecting.
The following month another test of the Arrow-3 was cut short after a problem in the transfer of data from the ground system was discovered.
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 threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles.
The latest generation of the Arrow-3 system is believed to have better intercepting capabilities at a much higher altitude and from much further away from Israeli soil. Further trials of the system are expected as Israel will continue to develop additional capabilities for the system.
The Arrow-3 development program, one of the joint programs between Israel and the United States, was co-managed by the US Missile Defense Agency and IMDO, a division of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The primary contractor for the integration and development of the Arrow Weapon System is MLM Division of the Aerospace Industries, together with America’s Boeing, Elta, Elbit Systems, Israel Military Industries, and Rafael.
The first use of the Arrow-2 system occurred in April when the system was launched to intercept three surface-to-air missiles that the Syrian regime air defense fired towards IAF jets.