Israel Forced to Abort Arrow 3 Missile Defense Test After Second Glitch in a Month

Defense Ministry says problem was unrelated to the anti-ballistic missile system itself and that another test will be held shortly

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An "Arrow 3" ballistic missile interceptor seen during its test launch near Ashdod, December 10, 2015.
An "Arrow 3" ballistic missile interceptor seen during its test launch near Ashdod, December 10, 2015. Credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

A test of the Arrow 3 missile defense system was halted on Wednesday morning, the second such incident in a month.

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The Arrow 3 is designed to intercept ballistic missiles at high altitudes. The manufacturers had hoped to test upgrades to the system, intended to improve its performance.

Last month, an Arrow 3 test was halted because of a glitch with the Anchor-type target missile, which had been fired from a jet.

On Wednesday, the test was halted due to a data transmission problem at the ground base. The test missile had been fired as expected and was functionally normally, meeting all safety requirements. But the data transmission issue meant the test had to be abandoned, said Moshe Fattal, head of the Defense Ministry division that handles military technological development. He insisted, however, that it was not a glitch with the anti-ballistic defense system itself.

Fattal also explained that the problem encountered Wednesday would not have constituted an obstacle in real time: If a missile had to be intercepted, it could have been – but given that this was only a test, they decided not to take unnecessary risks and called it off.

The target missile, again an Anchor fired from a plane, was destroyed at high altitude.

Israel's Arrow-3 intercepts a Black Sparrow target

The Israel Defense Forces has been using Arrow 2 systems for some years, and the Israel Air Force received the first version of the Arrow 3 back in January 2017. The system currently undergoing testing is an upgraded, more efficient version of this Arrow 3, which Israel has been developing in collaboration with the United States.

Representatives of both countries and the companies involved were present at Wednesdays aborted test. The Defense Ministry says another test should be held shortly.

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