'Successful' tests of Israel's Arrow 3 missile shield a warning to Iran, says Benjamin Netanyahu

The system will complement Iron Dome to tackle long-range missile threats

Israel's US-backed Arrow-3 ballistic missile shield is seen during a series of live interception tests over Alaska, US. Reuters
Israel's US-backed Arrow-3 ballistic missile shield is seen during a series of live interception tests over Alaska, US. Reuters

The long delayed test for Israel's US-backed Arrow-3 ballistic missile shield has passed a series of live interception tests over Alaska, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

The Israeli leader cast the achievement as a warning to Iran.

Jointly manufactured by US firm Boeing Co, Arrow-3 is billed as capable of shooting down incoming missiles in space, an altitude that would destroy any non-conventional warheads safely. It passed its first full interception test over the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 and was deployed in Israel in 2017.

"The performance was perfect – every hit a bull's eye," Mr Netanyahu, who doubles as defence minister, said in a statement announcing the three secret tests.

Unlike the shorter-range Iron Dome batteries, Israel views the Arrow-3 as a bulwark against the ballistic missiles fielded by Iran and Syria.

Iran has been locked in a spiralling confrontation with the United States over its nuclear programme and missile projects.

Washington said last week that Iran appeared to have tested a medium-range ballistic missile that flew about 1,000 km. Tehran said such tests are for its defensive needs although there is a growing concern in Europe over the range and sophistication of such weapons.

"Today Israel has the capabilities to act against ballistic missiles launched at us from Iran and from anywhere else," Mr Netanyahu said. "All our foes should know that we can best them, both defensively and offensively."

Arrow-3's Alaska trials had been expected last year but were postponed, following earlier difficulties in testing the system.

A handout picture released by the Israeli Ministry of Defence on July 28, 2019 shows the launch of the Arrow-3 hypersonic anti-ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in Alaska. Israel and the United States have successfully carried out tests of a ballistic missile interceptor that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday provides protection against potential threats from Iran. The tests of the Arrow-3 system were carried out in the US state of Alaska and it successfully intercepted targets above the atmosphere, Israel's defence ministry said in a statement. - == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / ISRAELI MINISTRY OF DEFENCE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS == / AFP / Israeli Ministry of Defence / - / == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / ISRAELI MINISTRY OF DEFENCE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==
A handout picture shows the launch of the Arrow-3 hypersonic anti-ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in Alaska. AFP, HO

Its first full trial, scheduled in 2014, was aborted due to what designers said was a faulty flight by the target missile. Follow-up Israeli tests in late 2017 and early 2018 were also called off at short notice due to technical problems.

The system's success in Alaska was held up by both Israel and the United States as a sign of the strength of their alliance.

The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, attended Sunday's meeting of Mr Netanyahu's cabinet, where he and the ministers watched a video of an Alaska missile interception.

Israel's Ministry of Defence said that, as part of the Alaska tests, Arrow-3 was successfully synched up with the AN-TPY2 radar – also known as X-band – that provides the United States with extensive global coverage. Israel hosts an X-band battery.

"We are committed to assisting the government of Israel in upgrading its national missile defence capability to defend the state of Israel and deployed US forces from emerging threats," Vice Admiral John Hill, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency, said in a statement.

Arrow-3 and an earlier generation system, Arrow-2, serve as the top tier of an integrated Israeli shield built up with US backing to withstand various potential missile or rocket salvoes. The bottom tier is the short-range Iron Dome interceptor while David’s Sling shoots down mid-range missiles.

Iron Dome batteries have been used to shoot down Hamas rockets during surges in violence between Israel and the group that controls the Gaza Strip.

Published: July 28, 2019 04:41 PM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read