The U.S. Army's improved Patriot ballistic missile defense system successfully intercepted a Scud missile target during a March 20 test in the central Pacific Ocean¾marking the system's second successful intercept of such a missile target in two attempts. The system, a more advanced version of the Patriot deployed during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, achieved its first intercept of a Scud class target on February 7.
In addition, on March 11, the U.S. Israeli Arrow II ballistic missile defense system successfully intercepted a missile target in Israel for the second time in two test attempts. The Arrow II system, which could be ready for limited deployment as early as 1998, achieved its first intercept of a missile target on August 20, 1996. Arrow II is designed to defend fixed sites in Israel against Scud type ballistic missile threats.
However, on March 6, the Army's mobile Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system failed to intercept a ballistic missile target at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, for the fourth consecutive time, seriously calling into question whether the system will be ready for initial deployment in 2004 as presently intended. THAAD's three previous intercept failures occurred on December 13, 1995, March 22, 1996, and July 15, 1996.