The Ministry of Defense today canceled a launching of the Arrow 3 missile in a complex test, the first of its kind, designed to adapt the Israeli defense system to future threats from the deadly and precise ballistic missiles being developed by Iran. The trial was planned to take place today from the Palmachim base, but did not take place because of a malfunction in the Sparrow target missile designed to resemble an enemy missile launched against Israel.
The Ministry of Defense explained that the launching of the Arrow 3 toward the target missile had been canceled for "considerations of safety," saying "The launched target did not meet the safety conditions set in advance."
The cancelation of the test should not affect the existing operational deployment of the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile defense systems. The test was planned a long time ago as part of the annual work plan of the Ministry of Defense Homa Administration (Israel Missile Organization) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA). It was designed to test the future capabilities of Arrow 3 missiles, especially the operational response to new ballistic missiles designed to threaten Israel in the coming years, including a long-range precision missile being developed by Iran's military industries.
The Arrow 3 missiles are considered new, and the Israeli air force made them operational only during the past year, following many years of development. The Arrow is capable of intercepting enemy missiles outside the earth's atmosphere and providing Israel with a second and third opportunity to intercept missiles bearing non-conventional warheads, if the first interceptor does not destroy the target missile.
The test planned for today was to have taken place at a height of several hundred kilometers, a height at which an Israeli weapons system had never before been tested. Before the test, an Israeli F-15 plane flying over the sea launched a Sparrow target missile. For reasons still being investigated, the target missile did not behave the way that the test planners expected, and the interceptor missile was therefore not launched from the Palmachim base. The test managers therefore declared a no test.
Defense sources explained that the main consideration leading to the test cancelation at the last minute was concern that intercepting the target missile would cause a serious security event, due to uncontrolled dispersal of fragments over a large area, which could jeopardize airplane traffic.
Before the test launch, the flight routes to Ben Gurion Airport were changed. In an attempt to minimize damage in the event of such a test, the Ministry of Defense uses a target that creates few fragments, but also sets other safety margins. If there is no great certainty about the test's safety, it is called off.
"Safety takes priority over everything in such a situation," Homa head Moshe Fatal said. "Cancelation of the test has no consequences whatsoever for the Arrow 3 program, and certainly not for the current version used in Israel's aerial defense system. The purpose of today's test was to examine future capabilities against future threats. This is not a failure, since the trial never took place at all. The process of preparation that we went through for this test taught us a great deal in a way that will significantly improve the system."
Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) general manager and executive VP Boaz Levy said, "The Arrow 3 system did not operate at all in the test today, because no interceptor missile was launched against the target."
The Arrow 3 missile system was developed jointly by Israel and the US. The Homa Administration is coordinating its measures in this matter with the MDA. The IAI MLM (Malam) Division is the chief contractor for the project, with US company Boeing and Israeli defense companies Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) as partners. The updating of the version of the Arrow 3 reflects the unceasing race to provide a good response to the developing Iranian ballistic missile threat, which is liable to spread to enemy countries and terrorist organizations establishing themselves on Israel's borders.
The Ministry of Defense is impressed by the strong motivation of the enemy countries to obtain advanced missile capabilities, which will significantly increase their precision and destructive capabilities, while posing challenges to the multi-layer defense system that the IDF is using against rockets and ballistic missiles. The Israel air force's air defense system against short-range rockets and missiles is already deploying over 10 Iron Dome batteries all over Israel, depending on the evaluation of the up-to-date threats. The Magic Wand interceptor system for ballistic missiles, heavy rockets, and cruise missiles was made operational by the IDF over the past year, as was the Arrow 3 system, which operates side by side with the older Arrow 2 defense system.
All of these defense systems overlap with each other in a way that provides a relevant response and good coverage for every threat. The versions of existing systems are also revised from time to time, improving their capabilities and providing responses to new threats. Last week, the IDF reported the completion of a series of tests of the naval version of the Iron Dome rocket interception system, after its battery was stationed on the deck of a navy missile boat. The system successfully intercepted rockets launched in various outlines. Following the success of the test, the IDF announced that it had operational capabilities to intercept rockets fired at targets at sea, such as natural gas platforms and navy vessels. During Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip tried to attack such targets in the Mediterranean with rockets. In addition to the development of new offensive ballistic missile capabilities, especially by Iran, the Ministry of Defense also expressed concern about the entry of cruise missiles of various types into the theater, and said that it had already made deployments against the threat, including the response provided to it by the Magic Wand system. Preparation for these threats is expected to continue in the coming years, with an emphasis on the development of new capabilities in the detection and identification of cruise missiles.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on December 4, 2017
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