In the latest sign of the arms race between Israel and its enemies, the Defense Ministry, together with the US Missile Defense Agency, test fired an upgraded Arrow 2 interceptor in central Israel on Tuesday.The trial was aimed at examining the capabilities of the latest version of the air-defense system. Defense officials said the initial detection and launch stages went as planned, but it is not yet clear whether the interceptor struck its target.Iran is thought to possess more than 400 ballistic missiles that can reach Israel, and Hezbollah’s arsenal of 100,000 rockets and missiles includes 5,000 projectiles that place greater Tel Aviv in range.
The test was overseen by officials from the HOMA administration – a part of the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, and Israel Aerospace Industries, which is the project’s prime contractor.“An Arrow 2 interceptor was fired according to plan, and carried out planned fight stages,” the ministry said.“The large amounts of data collected in the test is being analyzed by engineers,” it added.“This test has no connection to the operational performance of the Arrow weapons system, which is operated by the Air-Defense Command of the air force,” the statement said.The Arrow 2 air-defense system is designed to block incoming long-range enemy missiles, and forms the second layer of Israel’s missile defense system. During the test, a Rafael-produced Sparrow missile was fired from the Mediterranean Sea at Israel, a senior official said. “The systems detected and tracked the missile, and at the correct time, fired an Arrow 2 interceptor,” the official added.“All of the stages were carried out. We are now going over visual intelligence, broadcast from the interceptor and the target missile, to determine what occurred in the end stage,” he said.The organizers of the trial do not yet know if the target missile was successfully intercepted, but expect to know this within a few days.The trial is part of an effort to create a more advanced block of air defenses against continually improving projectile threats in the possession of the Jewish state’s enemies. The old Arrow 2 system finds it difficult to deal with upgraded versions of enemy missiles.“The amount of information broadcast from the interceptor missile every second is equivalent to a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica,” the official said.The source said the test is part of a multi-year improvement program from the Arrow 2, with previous tests held in 2009 and 2011.In addition to IAI, the project includes Boeing, Elta, Elbit Systems and Elisra. In January, the Israeli and US defense departments held a second successful trial of the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system.During the test, an interceptor was fired from Palmahim air base, south of Tel Aviv, entered space, and carried out a range of maneuvers in response to a virtual incoming enemy missile.For the first time, the system’s radar, designed by Elta Systems, an IAI subsidiary, tracked a virtual target, and sent commands to the interceptor, according to Yair Ramati, head of the HOMA program.
Arrow 2 interceptor test fired from central Israel