Israel, US test-fire Arrow 3 missile, declare trial a success
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System aims to down ballistic missiles outside atmosphere

Israel, US test-fire Arrow 3 missile, declare trial a success

Calling test a ‘milestone’ in development of Israel’s self-defense, ministry says interceptor locked onto incoming dummy missile, fully destroyed it

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

Israel and the United States carry out a successful test of their advanced Arrow 3 missile defense system on January 22, 2019 (Missile Defense Organization/Defense Ministry)
Israel and the United States carry out a successful test of their advanced Arrow 3 missile defense system on January 22, 2019 (Missile Defense Organization/Defense Ministry)

Israel and the United States carried out a successful test of their advanced Arrow 3 missile defense system early Tuesday morning, the Defense Ministry said.

Shortly before 6:45 a.m., a dummy missile was launched off the coast of Israel that was meant to simulate the type of long-range ballistic missile the Arrow 3 system is designed to intercept.

“Following the launch, the Arrow’s radar spotted the target on its radar array and transferred the data to its fire management center, which analyzed it and fully planned the interception. Once the planning was completed, an Arrow 3 interceptor was fired at the target, which completed its mission with complete success,” the ministry said in a statement.

The successful test, which followed a series of unsuccessful tests, was conducted by the Defense Ministry’s Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency, with assistance from the Israeli Air Force and Israeli Aerospace Industries, which manufactures the Arrow 3.

“This successful test provides confidence in Israel’s capability to protect itself from existing threats in the region.” said MDA director Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves. “My congratulations to the Israel Missile Defense Organization, the Israeli Air Force, our MDA team, and our industry partners. We are committed to assisting the government of Israel in upgrading its national missile defense capability against emerging threats.”

The Arrow 3 system, a more advanced model of the Arrow and Arrow 2 models, was declared operational in January 2017. The air defense system, developed as a joint project with the US, is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles — like those Israel fears Iran may one day launch at it — while the incoming projectile is still outside the earth’s atmosphere.

“The success of this test presents an important milestone in the operational capabilities of the State of Israel in defending itself against current and future existential threats,” the Defense Ministry said.

The Arrow was launched from the Palmachim air base in central Israel and the trail it left behind was visible from as far away as Jerusalem, owing to the clear morning.

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at an Israeli Aerospace Industries plant on January 22, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Touring an Israeli Aerospace Industries plant later Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Israel-US security cooperation and boasted of Israel’s defense prowess.

“We will continue to successfully develop the most advanced weapons systems in the world in order to ensure the security of the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu also warned, “Our enemies who seek to destroy us should know that Israel’s clenched fist will reach all those who seek our ill and we will settle accounts with them.”

The Arrow 3 was last tested, successfully, in July as part of a broad missile defense exercise that also checked the abilities of the short-range Iron Dome and medium-range David’s Sling.

Before that, the system was successfully tested in February 2018, 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.

Tuesday’s trial came two days after Israel’s air defense systems were put the test in shooting down a missile fired from Syria at the Israeli Golan Heights. An Iron Dome battery intercepted the incoming projectile, which the Israeli military said was launched by Iranian forces in Syria, apparently in retaliation for a rare daytime strike attributed to Israel on weapons depots in and around Damascus.

Israel responded to the missile attack on the Golan by pounding both Iranian military targets in Syria and the Syrian air defense systems that fired on the attacking Israeli jets on Monday.

Israel has accused Iran of seeking to establish a military presence in Syria that could threaten Israeli security and attempting to transfer advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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