Israel’s Arrow-3 Completes Successful Exoatmospheric Flight Test

Defense Update

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Arrow-3 launched on its first exoatmospheric test flight

Israel’s Ministry of Defense (IMOD) announced it carried out a successful flight test of the Arrow 3 missile interceptor, the test was conducted under the ‘Arrow’ development program in cooperation with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. The interceptor was launched into space at around 06:00 (GMT), from a coastal military launching pad in central Israel. The missile flew for more than six minutes, testing Arrow 3′s fly-out capabilities at altitudes well over 100 km (considered the lower boundary of space). The test plan did not include an actual intercept therefore, no target was used. The test, originally planned for summer 2012 was postponed for about six months, due to unspecified technical issues.

IAI’s Arrow-3 ballistic missile interceptor was launched today on its first exoatmospheric flight. This image shows a previous test in 2011 that cleared the missile’s launcher ejection sequence.

The successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow 3 Weapon System and provides further confidence in future Israeli defense capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat – the IMOD announcement said.

Arrow 3, the newest addition to the Arrow Weapon System, is the upper tier in the Arrow family of weapons that incorporates the latest technology to combat a continually advancing threat. As it becomes operational, around 2016 Arrow 3 will be able to intercept ballistic missiles with longer ranges than the ones that Arrow 2 can bring down, and it will do so at higher altitudes.

The Arrow system uses the two-stage Arrow II interceptor to destroy an incoming target with a fragmentation warhead. Arrow 3, also a two-stage interceptor, will be able to destroy an incoming target with an exo-atmospheric kill vehicle providing additional defense capability for evolving threats. Using ‘hit-to-kill’, rather than fragmenting warhead enables the new interceptor to become lighter and more agile platform. Arrow 3 weighs less than half the Arrow-2 weight.

Both interceptors will be operated from common launch systems, thus reducing the infrastructure and support required for new systems. The new system will require major upgrades of Super Green Pine radar, battle management systems, launchers and communications systems are currently underway as part of the Arrow Mission System 4.1 block upgrade.

The introduction of Arrow-3 is required as a response to the evolution of the threat of more sophisticated missiles, including those carrying weapons of mass destruction, requires a multi-tier approach to achieve a zero leakage rate. Arrow 2 and 3 are part of the Israeli multi-layer defense system currently being established, to protect the state of Israel against all ballistic threats.

Israel’s Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency officials conducted the flight test.  The main contractor for the integration and development of the Arrow Weapon System is MLM of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in conjunction with Boeing.

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