Pre-planned test comes amid rising tensions on Israel’s northern border
Amid rising tension on Israel’s northern border with Syria, the Defense Ministry and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully conducted a planned trial of the Arrow-3 missile defense system Tuesday morning.
The test, led by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in collaboration with the Israel Air Force, took place at around 6:44 in the morning and caused loud explosions in the vicinity of Palmahim in central Israel.
“Once the target was launched, Arrow Weapon System radars detected it and transferred the data to the battle management control (BMC) which then established a defense plan,” read a statement by the Defense Ministry. “At the right moment, the Arrow-3 interceptor was launched toward the target and successfully completed its mission.”
The Arrow-3 development program, one of the joint programs between Israel and the United States, was co-managed by MDA and IMDO, a division of the Defense Ministry.
The pre-planned test came just a day after Israel and Iran clashed in Syria. Iran fired a medium-range missile towards the Golan Heights on Sunday and Israel retaliated with a series of predawn air strikes against Iranian and Syrian military targets throughout Syria.
The primary contractor for the integration and development of the Arrow Weapon System is IAI’s MALAM division, which is responsible for the radar functions. Other contractors are Elbit Systems’ Elisra division, which developed the firing management systems and IAI’s TAMAM division together with IMI and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, who jointly developed the interceptor. America’s Boeing is also a partner in the 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 not carry a warhead but intercepts an incoming missile by crashing into it.
The Arrow-3 forms the uppermost layer of Israel’s multi-layered defense system along with the Arrow-2, David’s Sling and Iron Dome systems. Together they provide Israel with a protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short- and mid-range missiles used by terror groups in Gaza and Hezbollah as well as the threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles.
The new, latest generation of the Arrow-3 system is believed to have better intercepting capabilities at a much higher altitude and much further away from Israeli soil.
The last successful test of the system was in February 2018 after two prior tests of the system had been halted in December and January when flaws were discovered.
In December 2017, a test for the system was also halted after a flaw in a target missile was discovered. 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 was found in the transfer of data from the ground system.
Further trials of are expected as Israel continues to develop additional capabilities for the system.