Glitch in Target Missile Cancels Israeli Missile Defense Test

Israel planned test launch of next generation Arrow-3 missile defense interceptor, but safety concerns lead Israel to halt test

Test of the "Arrow 3" ballistic missile interceptor, December 10, 2015.
Ilan Assayag

A joint test of the next-generation Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile system by the Israeli Defense Ministry and American Missile Defense Agency was cut short because of a glitch in the target missile Monday morning, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The target missile was supposed to simulate a ballistic missile fired at Israel.

The Arrow-3 system is supposed to be capable of intercepting missiles at greater ranges, greater heights and faster than the present system. The test was to take place over the Mediterranean.

Israel's Arrow-3 intercepts a Black Sparrow target

Indeed the target missile, a Sparrow, was fired, but it quickly became clear that it was not functioning as expected and did not meet the required U.S. safety criteria for the test. The test was therefore stopped before the Arrow-3 system could be tested.

The Black Sparrow missile, which is produced by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in cooperation with the U.S. defense firm Raytheon, is reportedly designed to simulate missiles for purposes of testing the Arrow and other missiles.

Moshe Fattal, head of the "Homa" administration at the Defense Ministry, which handles military technological development, stated that the test had been halted prematurely because the target failed to meet safety standards. "We are trying to study what happened to the target and why it did not behave as expected," Fattal said, adding that the test protocol had been as usual, and they would not have been able to intercept it at high altitude as planned.

Interception at lower altitude could have posed a danger to nearby aircraft.