Israel successfully tested the Arrow 2 ballistic missile interceptor, developed in collaboration with the United States, on Wednesday, the Defense Ministry Spokesperson said early Thursday.
The Arrow is part of Israel's multi-tiered missile defense system, from short-range rockets to exospheric ballistic missiles.
"Israel faces far and near challenges and our technological know-how ... promises that we will always be one step ahead of our enemies and defend the State of Israel," Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.
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"The joint test with the United States expresses the friendship and partnership between our countries, and the United States' deep commitment to the security of Israeli citizens," Gantz added. "We will continue to work together to strengthen the capabilities of the security system - in the air, at sea, on land and in cyberspace. "
The interception test was conducted at 11:45 P.M. in Israel's densely populated central region, a spokesperson for the IDF said. According to a statement, the agencies taking direct part were Israel's Air Force, as well as the Administration for Research, Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure in the Ministry of Defense, together with the American Missile Defense Agency.
The Arrow 2 and a newer generation system, Arrow 3, serve as the top tier of an integrated Israeli shield built up with U.S. backing to withstand various missile salvoes.
"MDA remains committed to assisting the government of Israel as it upgrades its national missile defense capability against current and emerging threats," said Missile Defense Agency director, Vice Admiral Jon Hill.
The security establishment and IAI are encouraged by the success of the Arrow 2 missile test. The aerial defense system is supposed to protect against ballistic missile fire at Israeli held territory. In recent years most of the tests have involved the Arrow 3 system, the newer system which destroys the target above atmospheric levels.
There's been a decision to improve and upgrade the Arrow 2 system, which the air force had been using for 20 years.
"The system has undergone at least five upgrades in recent years," said Moshe Petael, head of HOMA in the defense ministry. The Arrow 2 is supposed to provide an additional layer of protection for missile fire at Israel that isn't destroyed by the Arrow 3.
"The combined systems is very important and provides a response to various situations. The test was conducted yesterday in full cooperation between the air force and the IAI and other defense industries. All existing defense systems took part in the test, including the systems involved in development," Petael said.
He added that "we must achieve accuracy as close to 100 percent as possible in intercepting missiles fired at Israel. We know that nuclear missiles may be introduced to the arena and therefore it's important to provide a completely accurate response."
The target missile fired at Israel from the sea as part of the test was a Black Sparrow missile fired from an aircraft to simulate missiles the air force may encounter in a real event.
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.
"The test yesterday was perfect," IAI director-general Boaz Levy said. "All systems worked accurately as we expected. The radar spotted the target missile and the interceptor missile was fired with accurate timing and reached its target with accuracy, and the explosive was activated with perfect timing, leading to the destruction of the target missile."
The defense establishment also has an Arrow 4 system that is supposed to provide better protection and complete the aerial defenses of Israeli territory.
Aerial missile defense is made of a number of systems, each one of which is supposed to provide defense at different ranges of missile fire to ensure an interception in case the first or second attempt don't succeed in completing the interception.
The Arrow 3 system is supposed to respond to missiles beyond the atmosphere. Arrow 2 knows to respond to missiles inside and outside the atmosphere and adds to the Patriot System, David's Sling, Iron Dome and other systems under development, some of which employ different methods of intercepting missiles.