The series of tests over the course of 10 days saw three successful interceptions. It was the first time that such a test took place outside of Israel. The successful test was attended by Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer.
The system was tested against targets similar in behavior to advanced ballistic missiles being developed by Iran, and against future threats that Israel may face. Israel and the US remain concerned that Iran has continued to work on both its nuclear program as well as its ballistic missile program, despite international criticism.
The series of experiments successfully demonstrated the missile’s capability against exo-atmospheric targets. An American AN-TPY2 radar participated in the test and successfully demonstrated operational connectivity between the systems.
“Ten challenging years of development have culminated in this moment: the Arrow 3 weapon system completed a test campaign, during which an Arrow 3 interceptor completed full interception of the target,” said Moshe Patel, director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization. “In addition, the fact that the tests were conducted in Alaska, tens of thousands of kilometers away from Israel, is another significant achievement that demonstrates the operational capabilities of the Arrow 3 system to successfully face any threat,” he added.
“These successful tests mark a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System,” said Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director Vice Admiral Jon Hill. “This unique success in Alaska provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing threats in the region. We are committed to assisting the government of Israel in upgrading its national missile defense capability to defend the State of Israel from emerging threats.”
The Defense Ministry delayed the test in Alaska last year following consultations between Washington and Jerusalem, “in order to achieve maximum readiness.” At the time, KTOO news in Juneau reported that the test would be part of the $80-million contract between MDA and the Alaska Aerospace Corp.
In March, Patel said that the test would take place in Alaska because of the “limited ability” Israel had to shut down airspace over the Mediterranean Sea used by commercial airlines. “Arrow 3 is too big for the state of Israel,” Patel told an audience at a panel discussion. “It is supposed to be good against nuclear threats that are coming from Iran. We have limitations in our arena to conduct flight tests because of safety.”
Channel 13’s Barak Ravid first reported on Dermer’s visit on Friday, and quoted unnamed Israeli officials as saying that this was not a usual diplomatic visit but rather a “much more important and even dramatic” trip. According to the report, the visit was concerning an issue “at the core of the US-Israel security relationship” and had to deal with cooperation regarding the threat from Iran.
“Israel and the US have a robust security relationship and vast cooperation on issues ranging from intelligence sharing to missile defense. The event Dermer traveled to Alaska for is another testament for the upgrade in the US-Israel cooperation against Iran,” an official said.
Tehran test-fired a Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile on Friday from the country’s south-eastern coastline along the Gulf of Oman. The missile crashed 1,000 km. away in northern Iran.
Israel last carried out a successful missile test in January.
Jointly manufactured by Boeing, the Arrow 3 is considered one of the world’s best interceptors due to its breakthrough technological capabilities. It is a highly maneuverable system designed to provide ultimate air defense by intercepting ballistic missiles when they are still outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The primary contractor for the integration and development of the Arrow Weapon System was IAI’s MALAM division – responsible for the radar functions – along with Elbit Systems Elisra division that developed the firing management systems, and IAI’s TAMAM division together with IMI and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which jointly developed the interceptor.
In addition to the Arrow system, Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome – designed to shoot down short-range rockets – and the David’s Sling missile defense system, which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40km and 300 km.