Israel and the US have begun developing the Arrow 4, the latest generation in the family of Israeli anti-ballistic missiles and an essential part of the country’s multi-layered defense system, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Thursday.
“The defense establishment is working round the clock to shield Israel’s skies from ballistic threats,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, praising the joint development with US partners. “It will bring a technological and operational leap to the future battlefield,” he added.
According to Gantz, the Arrow 4 anti-ballistic missile will include upgraded capabilities and will join the existing Arrow family to “address a wide range of evolving threats in the region” adding that it is expected to replace the Arrow 2 in the coming decades.
Vice Admiral Jon Hill, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, said the Arrow 4 joint development operation “expresses the United States’ commitment to assist the State of Israel in strengthening its national defense system against the missile threat.”
Israel says the Arrow system is a critical element in its multi-layered defense system, which includes powerful radar systems, the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, the Arrow 2 and the Arrow 3, which entered operational use in 2017. The existing systems have undergone a series of improvements with successful interception tests in Israel and Alaska, according to the Defense Ministry.
“Arrow 4 will have extraordinary flight and interception capabilities, to ensure Israel will remain one step ahead of the enemy,” said Moshe Patel, head of the Israeli Missile Defense Organization.
Earlier in February, the Israel Defense Forces and the United States European Command launched a joint air defense exercise, dubbed Juniper Falcon, focused on the threat of ballistic missile attack.
In January, Iran held a series of ballistic missile drills, amid tensions with the US.
Iran has a missile capability of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), far enough to reach Israel and US military bases in the region. Last January, after the US killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, Tehran retaliated by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops, resulting in brain concussion injuries to dozens of them.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Israel of being behind the November killing of the country’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the alleged mastermind of Iran’s rogue nuclear weapons program, and has vowed to avenge his death.