Israel shoots test missile over sea, raising alarms
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Israel shoots test missile over sea, raising alarms

Defense Ministry reports successful launch of Sparrow target missile in joint drill with US, after Russia radar detects objects, triggering alert in skittish region

A NATO Sea Sparrow missile is launched during a live-fire self-defense missile exercise aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman in 2004. (Photo credit:  Petty Officer 2nd class Jason P. Taylor/US Navy, Department of Defense).
A NATO Sea Sparrow missile is launched during a live-fire self-defense missile exercise aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman in 2004. (Photo credit: Petty Officer 2nd class Jason P. Taylor/US Navy, Department of Defense).

Russia raised a brief alarm in the Middle East Tuesday after apparently detecting a joint Israel and US missile launch test in the Mediterranean.

Israel’s Defense Ministry confirmed that it carried out a successful trial involving a new type of Sparrow target missile, which was meant to test Israel’s missile tracking capabilities.

“This is the first flight out test of this new version of the Sparrow, and was conducted at Israeli test range over the Mediterranean sea,” the ministry said in a statement. “All the elements of the system performed according to their operational configuration.”

The Sparrow is a cutting edge family of missiles developed by Israeli defense contractor Rafael that, though fired from a plane, traces the flight path of a ground-to-ground Scud B, Scud D or cruise missile, depending on the make. It is used to train antimissile systems and troops, who practice shooting it down.

Illustrative: A Blue Sparrow missile carried on an F-15 jet prior to launch. (screen capture: Youtube/uriav)
Illustrative: A Blue Sparrow missile carried on an F-15 jet prior to launch. (screen capture: Youtube/uriav)

The missile is known as the Ankor in Hebrew. Rafael’s newest version of the Sparrow missile, joining the Blue and the Black, is the Silver Sparrow, which is being used to test the Arrow 3 antimissile system.

Russia had reported that two ballistic objects had been fired from the central Mediterranean to the eastern coast of the sea at 10:16 a.m. Moscow time, which is an hour ahead of Israel.

The Russian RIA news agency later said that the two objects had fallen into the sea.

The ministry said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of the launch.

Israel and the US denied any knowledge of ballistic missiles being fired in the sea immediately following the Russian report

“The IDF does not refer to foreign reports,” a spokesperson told The Times of Israel.

The missile test came as tensions in the region have reached a boiling point ahead of a possible Western-led strike on Syria.

Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, on Sunday sent a spy ship to the region, amid a buildup of American naval power off the coast of Syria, though it has said it will not intervene if Syria is attacked.

The US has sent five warships to the region in recent days, but Washington is awaiting authorization from Congress before going ahead with a strike.

Israel has maintained it will stay out of any Syrian action.

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