Defense establishment completes test of Arrow missile system
Senior source says system capable of intercepting missiles equipped with nuclear, biological warheads.
The defense establishment on Friday conducted a successful test of the Arrow missile system, which intercepted a simulated Iranian Shihab-3 missile. The simulated threat target was launched from an Israel Air Force aircraft.
A senior defense source said that the Arrow system was also capable of intercepting missiles equipped with nuclear or biological warheads.
Friday's was the 14th test of the Arrow interceptor, and the ninth trial run for the current weapons system. Defense officials said the object of the test was to examine the system's enhanced capabilities, including an expanded interception range, and to test the interface between the Arrow system and the Patriot missile system, which is supposed to become activated in the event that the Arrow does not destroy the target.
The test simulated an operational scenario and all of the system's components were working in operational mode. After the target was launched, the weapons system went into action: The radar located the target and transmitted its trajectory data to the command and control center, which calculated plans for defending against it. These were transmitted to the launcher, which launched the test interceptor. The test interceptor successfully destroyed the target.
Defense Ministry officials said Saturday that the successful test represented an important step in the operational development and in providing a response to the growing threat of ballistic missiles in this theater.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz called Friday's test "a tremendous achievement" that "once again underscores the principle that the State of Israel relies first and foremost on itself when it comes to safeguarding the citizens of Israel.
"The successful test is another high point for the defense establishment that proves that Israel is at the forefront of technology in manufacturing advanced weapons systems, and is one of the leading defense industries in the world," Mofaz added.
The director general of the Defense Ministry, Yaakov Toren, said the successful test would help to improve the system's existing capabilities and that the Arrow would be able to contend successfully with future threats.
A senior defense source said that the Arrow was specifically designed to intercept every sort of missile threat, including missiles equipped with non-conventional warheads. "We know that we can intercept that," the source said.
The source said that the Arrow was capable of intercepting targets at high altitude, and thus prevent non-conventional fallout on the ground. He added that the Arrow system was also preparing to provide a response to several missiles launched simultaneously at Israel, with Iran and Syria the primary threats being considered.
Friday's test was conducted as part of a contract signed by Israel and the United States to improve the system they have been developing jointly since 1988. So far, a sum of $2.4 billion has been invested in the project, with two-thirds coming from the U.S.
The Arrow is being developed by the Defense Ministry's weapons development authority and the American Department of Defense Strategic Defense Initiative. The system has a fire control system manufactured by the Elta Systems Group of Israeli Aircraft Industries, a launch control system manufactured by Tadiran Systems, a launcher control center and launcher made by MLM Division of IAI, and additional components manufactured by Rafael Development Corp.