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Israel's Palmahim testing facility will soon be the scene of another test of the Arrow 2 anti-missile missile, in which it will try to shoot down an air-launched missile programmed to simulate a ballistic missile.

Defense establishment experts say that the Arrow provides an answer to the Iranian Shihab missile and comparable missiles in the arsenals of Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria. Given its performance to date, they say, Israel is already protected against ground-to-ground missiles from most of those countries.

In the upcoming test, dubbed Harif 9, an Arrow will be fired at an air-to-ground Black Adder missile launched from an Air Force F-15 and programmed to simulate a ground-to-ground missile. In a previous test, an Arrow knocked down such a missile, but this time there will be further tests of the process of discovery, tracking and destruction.

The debate inside the defense establishment over the relative superiority of attack missiles from the North Korean No Dong family, such as Iran's Shihab 3, and the Arrow was recently settled with the Arrow coming out on top. Both the Defense Ministry and Israel Aircraft Industries have argued for some time that the Arrow provides a response to the Shihab, but at the top level of the air force there had been other opinions.

However, opposition by residents of the Ein Shemer area to the installation of an Arrow battery at a nearby air force base is so far holding up the air force's deployment of the missiles. "Israelis demand protection on condition that the means to protect them aren't in their own backyards, but in their neighbor's," said one of the Arrow's developers this week.

The Defense Ministry is preparing an alternative plan to position the battery further north, in an area yet to be selected, but the preferred choice is an air force base.