A test of Israel’s Arrow-3 ballistic missile interceptor was aborted today due to a target failure. According to an Israel Ministry of Defense (IMOD) announcement, the test performed at the Air Forces’ Palmachim missile test base was planned as part of the series of tests on Israel’s multi-tiered defense array.

The Arrow 3 interceptor missile was developed under a Israel-US cooperation, by IAI and is jointly produced by IAI and Boeing. The target missiles are produced by Rafael. The Arrow 3 provides the exoatmospheric upper-tier component of Israel’s missile defense system, as an interceptor designed to defend against ballistic missiles by targeting the threat outside of the earth’s atmosphere.

launched On such tests the Arrow interceptor is pitted against an air launched ‘Sparrow’ ballistic missile target launched eastwards from the Mediterranean Sea. Under such conditions, the test range is limited to strict safety limitations, to avoid collateral damage on land or space, resulting from debris caused by the interceptor’s collision with the target. According to the IMOD announcement today’s test was stopped at an early stage, before the interceptor was launched, once it was discovered that the ‘Silver Sparrow’ target did not meet those strict predetermined test parameters.

The Arrow 3 tests continued after the first interceptor were fielded with operational Arrow 2 Block4 missile units this year. To date the new interceptor performed three successful tests flights from an Israeli missile test site south of Tel Aviv. Only one of those flights included an actual intercept of a real target. A fourth test was aborted in 2014, in circumstances similar to today’s situation, before the missile was launched.

To prove the missile’s full capabilities Israel and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) are planning to perform the next test flights over the Pacific Ocean, at the US missile test facility at Kodiak, Alaska. These tests are scheduled to start in early 2018.

The first Arrow-3 interceptor was handed over to the Israel Air Force on January 18, 2017, to join the Arrow-2 as the operational interceptors of the Arrow Weapon System (AWS). Photo: IMOD