Israel has conducted a ballistic missile test from the Palmachim Air & Space test center. Israel’s Ministry of Defense confirmed the test was successful, indicating that the purpose of the launch was the testing of a new advanced propulsion system. (Reuters) Local reports published in the Israeli media indicated the propulsion system employed multiple stages, with limited maneuvering performed at the ascent phase.
Israel is widely assumed to have such weapons, known as Jerichos. The satellite launcher known as ‘Shavit’, believed to be a derivative of the Jericho II missile is capable of inserting 300kg satellite into low earth orbit, when launched in retrograde (westward) orbit. When launched eastward, its the payload could be significantly larger – the ballistic missile ‘Jericho II’ is believed to be able to lift a payload of one ton, to a range of 1,500 km. For several years Israel has been reportedly developing a three-stage missile known as Jericho III, an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) capable of lifting a payload of 1-1.3 to a maximum range of up to 5,000 km.
Missiles having a warhead capacity of one tons can potentially carry a crude nuclear warhead and tus are rated ‘nuclear capable’ with nations having access or capability to develop nuclear weapons. WHile both Jericho II and III can carry over one ton of payload, the advantage of the three-stage missile is reach farther but more importantly, its ability to fly into higher ballistic trajectory, thus achieving higher terminal velocity, providing better immunity to missile defenses.
Jericho III is also believed to carry multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRV), each carrying thermal protection to withstand the atmosphere reentry phase of the flight and employing terminal guidance to achieve high precision strike. In practical terms, with their high accuracy, MIRV offer the use of low-yield warheads, achieving more effective effect against multiple targets.