Israel, US test improved Arrow 2 missile interceptor

The defense weapon, already operational, is part of Israel’s still-incomplete five-tiered air defense array

Mitch Ginsburg is the former Times of Israel military correspondent.

An Arrow 2 battery (photo credit:Shay Levy/ Flash 90)
An Arrow 2 battery (photo credit:Shay Levy/ Flash 90)

Israel and the US Missile Defense Agency tested an improved Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“An Arrow 2 missile was launched and performed its flight sequence as planned. The results are being analyzed by program engineers,” the statement read.

Defense Ministry spokesperson Jonathan Mosery said that the Arrow 2 system, which has been operational for years and is intended for use against long-range threats, “like Iron Dome, undergoes ongoing improvements” to software and hardware and other components.

Israel is in the process of developing a five-tiered system of air defense, offering protection against projectiles ranging from mortars to ballistic weapons.

Of the two operational systems, only Iron Dome has been used in combat. Defending against short-to-mid-range rockets, it intercepted roughly 90 percent of its targeted projectiles during Operation Protective Edge, according to figures released by the army.

The other three systems – Iron Beam, David’s Sling, and Arrow 3 – are expected to become operational within the coming two years.

The Arrow 2 was rolled out in March 2000. “This is a great day for the Air Defense Forces, for the Air Force, the defense establishment and, I would say, for the State of Israel,” Maj. Gen. Eitan Ben Eliyahu said at the time.

He called the Arrow 2 “the only weapon system of its kind in the entire world,” adding that Israel is the first country to “succeed in developing, building and operating a defense system against ballistic missiles.”

Tuesday’s test, the Defense Ministry said, has no bearing “on the Israeli operational systems’ capability to cope with the existing threats in the region” and is merely “intended to counter future threats.”

The Arrow 3, still incomplete, is designed to intercept missiles at a higher altitude, in space and above the earth’s atmosphere, minimizing the threat of fallout from weapons of mass destruction and increasing the likelihood of a successful interception of incoming missiles.

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