First Successful Intercept Test of the Arrow-3

Arrow 3 interceptor missile launched on its second test flight, December 10, 2015. Photo: IMOD
Arrow 3 interceptor missile launched on its second test flight, December 10, 2015. Photo: IMOD

The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) conducted a successful first engagement of a ballistic missile target with the Arrow-3 interceptor on 08:17 local time, December 10, 2015. Led by the Israeli Air Force and the prime contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the test was conducted from the Palmachim missile test range south of Tel Aviv.

Unlike the failed test a year ago, that involved an Arrow II target missile, the current test used an air launched Sparrow target launched toward the Israeli coast from the Eastern Mediterranean sea. The target was detected by the Arrow missile systems’ radars, which transferred tracking information to the Battle Management Control (BMC) system. The BMC system analyzed the tracking data and planned the interception. After the interception solution was calculated, the Arrow-3 interceptor was launched, performed its planned trajectory and engaged the target in out in space, according to plan. Preliminary analysis indicates that test objectives were successfully achieved. The test used low-debris target to minimize collateral risk to low earth orbit satellites in orbit.

The Arrow-3 Hit-to-Kill interceptor impacts the target, note the minimal debris resulting 100 ms after impact. Images: IMOD. Analysis: Defense-Update
The Arrow-3 Hit-to-Kill interceptor impacts the target, note the minimal debris resulting 100 ms after impact. Images: IMOD. Analysis: Defense-Update

The Arrow-3 interceptor is a central part of Israel’s multi-layer defense array and will serve as the uppermost layer. The other layers of defense are: Iron Dome System (operational), David’s Sling Weapon System (in its last phase before being deployed operationally), the Arrow-2 (operational) and Arrow 3 (under development). As Arrow 3 becomes part of the Arrow missile defense system, designed to be the first line of defense, capable of intercepting targets detected at long ranges, out in space. By taking out those targets Arrow-3 will leave fewer, but more challenging targets to be engaged by interceptors at the lower tiers. Arrow-3 and the improved Arrow-2 are designed to defend Israel from the latest and future Iranian ballistic missiles, capable of attacking Israel from a range of more than 2000 kilometers.

According to MOD sources “The successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing threats.” Additional Arrow-3 interceptor tests are planned in the future to demonstrate the system’s capability prior to becoming operational.

The primary contractor for the integration and development of the Arrow Weapon System is MLM of IAI, jointly with Elta a subsidiary of IAI. Boeing is partnered with MLM to develop and produce Arrow 3. Elbit, a subsidiary of Elisra, developed the BMC system. The target missile was developed by Rafael.

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