Israel's Defense Ministry and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency have completed the first phase of development on the Arrow 3 missile defense system and the first of the advanced rockets were delivered to Israel on Wednesday.
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The new system represents a significant increase in Israel's ability to defend against long-range missiles. Among other things, the system improves on the Arrow 2 system in the areas of control and monitoring abilities while also expanding radar detection range.
Israel and the U.S. are continuing in their joint development of the Arrow 3, and additional operational tests are expected in the coming years before Israel has been fully equipped with the system.
The Arrow 3 is designed to intercept ballistic missiles at long distances and outside the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Defense's Missile Defense Agency and Boeing are partners in the project run by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. Each Arrow 3 missile is estimated to cost about $2.2 million.
The system was successfully tested by Israel in December, 2015 after a partial failure one year previously.
The Arrow is the long-range segment in Israel's three-tier missile shield. This also includes the successfully deployed Iron Dome, which targets short-range rockets and mortar bombs used by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, and the mid-range David's Sling, which is still under development. They can be deployed alongside U.S. counterpart systems like the AEGIS.
The United States and Israel have been jointly working on Arrow since 1988. Washington says helping Israel build up the capability to shoot down missiles staves off escalatory wars — or preemptive Israeli strikes — in the Middle East.
Israel also sees it as a means of weathering enemy missile salvos while it brings its offensive capabilities to bear.