The Air Force held the 14th test of the Israeli-designed Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile on Friday, successfully intercepting an incoming rocket at a higher altitude than ever before.
A day after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
declared that Israel
would not tolerate Iranian efforts to get nuclear arms, the test demonstrated Israel's robust interception capability against incoming missiles that may be armed with nuclear or chemical warheads.
The Defense Ministry said the routine test, which was scheduled over a year ago, tested improvements made to the Arrow 2 system.
The test took place at 10:28 a.m., when the Arrow 2 interceptor was launched from the Palmachim
Air Force base south of Tel Aviv
An F-15 fighter jet flying over the Mediterranean dropped a Black Sparrow test missile specially designed to simulate an incoming Iranian Shihab 3 missile headed toward the Israeli shore.
The radar detected the Black Sparrow missile and relayed its data to a battle management center, which issued the command to launch the Arrow 2 interceptor.
"The interceptor performed successfully and intercepted the target," a Defense Ministry statement said. "The test's success is a major step in the system's operational improvements to deal with future ballistic missile threats.'
Air Force officers carried out the test, but officials from the companies which manufacture the system as well as US officials were also on hand.
Air Force Patriot batteries also participated passively in the test, following the incoming missile with their radars and simulating interceptions. This tested the entire missile defense screen of the country, the only nation in the world to have a national missile defense shield.
"The defense establishment, the Ministry of Defense, the defense industries and the IDF have proven once again their technological contribution to Israel's national defense," said Jacob
Toren, director general of the Defense Ministry.
"The success of the test will improve the existing operational capabilities of the Arrow system that will be able to cope successfully with future threats."
The Arrow 2 was delivered to the Air Force in 1998 and has been declared operational for over five years.