Israel postpones Alaska test of Arrow 3 missile interceptor

Defense Ministry live-fire test delayed in order to ensure ‘maximum readiness’ of long-range anti-missile battery

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The Arrow 3 missile is launched from Palmachim air base in central Israel on December 10, 2015. (Defense Ministry)
The Arrow 3 missile is launched from Palmachim air base in central Israel on December 10, 2015. (Defense Ministry)

The Defense Ministry announced Tuesday it was postponing a planned live-fire test of the long-range Arrow 3 missile defense system in Alaska in order to ensure “maximum readiness” of the battery.

The ministry did not specifically address what needed to be made ready ahead of the test.

“Following consultation between the American Missile Defense Agency and the Israeli Defense Ministry, it was decided to postpone the test of the Arrow 3 system in Alaska — this is in order to reach maximum preparedness ahead of the test in the American [airfield],” the ministry said.

In its statement, the ministry said it was working with the MDA to schedule another time to test the system, which was declared operational last year.

“It should be stressed that there is no connection between this and the operational systems (Arrow 2 and Arrow 3), which are in use by the Israeli Air Force,” the ministry added.

The Arrow 3 system was first tested successfully in February, after months of delays and technical problems. In January, an exercise was called off because of a data transfer problem and in December a test was canceled over safety concerns.

Complemented by a number of other missile defense systems designed to protect Israel from short-, medium- and long-range attacks, the Arrow 3 system represents the highest level of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense network.

The Arrow 3 missile defense system that was delivered to the Israeli Air Force on January 18, 2017. (Defense Ministry)

The system, which was developed in a joint Israeli-American program, is designed to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere, taking out projectiles and their nuclear, biological, chemical or conventional warheads closer to their launch sites. It is a more advanced version of the Arrow and Arrow 2 systems.

The Arrow 3 is considered to be one of the most powerful weapons of its kind in the world and has been in development for nearly a decade, starting in 2008.

It was delivered to the Israeli Air Force in January 2017.

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