Israel successfully tested a new long-range missile interceptor Monday in a joint drill with the US, the Defense Ministry said.
The trial of the Arrow 3 was hailed as a further improvement in Israel’s capacity to fend off an Iranian threat.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the Israeli technical skill, and the partnership with the US, involved in the system, which he said enabled the Israeli government to better protect its citizens.
Uzi Rubin, who oversaw the development of the entire Arrow system, said the Arrow 3 represented “the most sophisticated system of its kind” in the world.
The primary advantage of the Arrow 3 over its predecessor, the Arrow 2, is its ability to intercept enemy missiles at higher altitudes and to target non-conventional weapons of mass destruction. This is seen as particularly relevant amid concerns over the progress of Iran’s nuclear program.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the test was an “important milestone in Israel’s multi-layered protection system.”
The Defense Ministry said the Arrow 3 “flew an exo-atmospheric trajectory through space, in accordance with the test plan.”
The rocket, still in early stages of development, was not given a target to intercept.
Arrow 3 joins Arrow 2, Iron Dome and Magic Wand (also known as David’s Sling) in Israel’s “umbrella” defense against rocket threats. The Arrow 3 is expected to be deployed in 2016.
The interceptor system is being developed by Israel Aerospace Industries in conjunction with Boeing.
Israel has seen success with anti-missile systems over the past year, especially the Iron Dome short-range rocket interceptor, which was deployed against Gazan rockets during Operation Pillar of Defense.
The system proved effective during the November mini-war, intercepting 84 percent of the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at residential areas in Israel’s south and center.
In late January and early February, three Iron Dome batteries were deployed in Israel’s north as a precaution against the threat of attack from Hezbollah and Syria.
At the time, Channel 2 also reported that Israel had also deployed longer-range Patriot missiles in the Galilee.
The Magic Wand system has with an operational range of 70-200 kilometers and is expected to be operational in 2014.