Israel Postpones U.S. Test of Arrow 3 Ballistic Missile Interceptor

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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

Israel has decided to postpone the U.S. test of its Arrow 3 ballistic missile interceptor, after a consolation with the U.S. defense department, in a bid to improve the system’s readiness, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

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No new date was given for the test run, which was supposed to take place in Alaska and is being conducted with the American Missile Defense Agency. The defense ministry stressed that the test did not reflect on the Arrow 2 or Arrow 3 missile systems being used by the Israeli air force.

Jointly manufactured by Boeing Co, Arrow 3 is billed as capable of destroying missiles in space, an altitude that would destroy any non-conventional warheads safely. Israel regards it as a bulwark against Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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The system passed its first full interception test over the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 and was deployed in Israel in 2017.

Arrow Intercept

Israel had planned another test in the summer of 2018 in Alaska, whose expanses would have allowed larger interception distances.

The Defense Ministry statement said the postponement had been agreed upon with the Pentagon, which is Israel’s partner in the Arrow system development, “with the goal of reaching maximum readiness for a test on the American range”.

Israel has had difficulties with its Arrow 3 tests.

Its first full trial, scheduled in 2014, was aborted due to what designers said was a faulty flight by the target missile. Follow-up Israeli tests last December and January were also called off at short notice due to technical problems.

Arrow serves as the top tier of an integrated Israeli shield built up to withstand various potential missile or rocket salvoes. The bottom tier is the already deployed short-range Iron Dome interceptor, while a system called David’s Sling, due to be fielded next year, will shoot down mid-range missiles.