Israel Tests Arrow 2 Block 4 ATBM with Super Green Pine Radar

An early image of the Super Green Pine radar. (Photo: IAI)
An early image of the Super Green Pine radar. (Photo: IAI)

The Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency completed a successful test of the key elements of the joint U.S.-Israel IAI Arrow Weapon System (AWS) today. The test was carried out over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and involved a Rafael Blue Sparrow 2 target missile, launched toward Israel from an F-15 fighter jet. The target missile was detected and tracked by the EL/M-2080 Super Green Pine radar, the primary sensor of the AWS. Intercept solutions were plotted by the Golden Citron battle management controller and transferred to the launch units.

This Block 4 System Verification Flight Test (B4SVFT) was a target-only tracking exercise. In fact, Arrow 2 Block 4 missiles have already been verified through a number of long-range intercept tests over the Mediterranean and Pacific Ocean in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

According to the official announcement, “Elements of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) successfully performed interoperability with the AWS and collected data.”this probably pertains to the BMDS Raytheon AN/TPY-2 radar station in the Arava valley.

Israel MOD says the success of the test is the final test prior to delivery of block 4 Arrow Weapons System. This was a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System and provides confidence in operational Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat. The next step in the AWS progress is expected in 2013, as the Arrow 3 exo-atmospheric interceptors enter flight testing. Arrow 3 will form the upper layer in the Israeli multi-layered missile defense system. Arrow 3 and Arrow 2 Block 4 are expected to form the top and upper layers, with Rafael David’s Sling providing the mid-tier and lower tiers, defending against tactical missiles, long range rockets, cruise missiles and attack aircraft. The low-level will be protected by Rafael’s Iron Dome Countering short-range rockets (C-RAM).

The evolution of the Arrow Weapon System follows a spiral (blocks) development cycle. The operational AWS is currently the Block 3, with Block 4 undergoing testing for the past four years. This block improves the Arrow ability to overcome countermeasures, offering higher discrimination of false targets (including decoys and elements separated from the main target). The missile has already been tested several times in Israel and the US. The two recent tests in 2008, 2009 and 2011 were0 performed at the pacific missile range on the Pacific coast, as the ranges involved in the intercept (over 1,000 km) have not allowed Israel to realistically evaluate the missile’s performance over the Mediterranean. The final firing test conducted on February 2011 validated the block-4 missile performance, which scored a direct hit on this test. Among the improvements introduced in the Arrow 2 Block 4 missile are refined midcourse guidance section, improved target identification and discrimination and enhanced lethality. Other improvements were implemented throughout the system, increasing the target discrimination capability, situational assessment and overall target engagement, battle management.

The Green Pine radar has a proven track record demonstrated in over 20 successful ballistic missile intercepts. The radar was developed with Israeli funding and as such is not subjected to U.S. export limitations. As such, Green Pine was exported to a number of Asian countries, among them India and South Korea. The system was also mentioned in a recent $1.5 billion contract finalized with another country in Asia. The first Green Pine radar was delivered to India in 2002, and has since been integrated with the country’s indigenous missile defense system as the Swordfish radar system. Two sites are currently operational – northeast of Bangalore, and on India’s northeast coast. Representing the next phase in this strategic roadmap, Super Green Pine is bound to attract even more interest, with its enhanced capabilities.

The Blue Sparrow 2 target missile was employed in today's test. Rafael is also developing the heavier (+3 ton) Silver Arrow target, designed for long-range exo-atmospheric intercept testing. Photo: Rafael

The Blue Sparrow, the target missile used in this test was developed by RAFAEL as an air-launched target simulating medium-range ballistic missile of the Scud B/D class. Rafael is already building a larger version known as ‘Silver Sparrow’. The Sparrow targets have a modular warhead section carrying different payloads such as inert, high explosive or water. This 8.39 m’ long missile weighs over three tons. It will simulate Shihab 3 class missiles (1500-2000 km) for the testing of the Arrow-3 interceptor. The Silver Sparrow uses a single stage solid rocket propellant, and shares a common reentry vehicle with the mid-range Blue Sparrow. The Silver Sparrow is also considered as a candidate for  air-launching of RAFAEL’s future LiteSat micro-satellite, providing Operationally Responsive Space capability supporting ad-hoc requirement for satellite imagery.