Israel Conducts Successful Arrow Test

On November 1, Israel conducted its first successful system-wide test of the joint U.S.-Israeli Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system. The Arrow system, comprised of a fire-control radar system and battle-management center, in addition to the missiles and launcher, intercepted and destroyed a Scud-type target launched from a ship in the Mediterranean. Arrow project manager Danny Peretz said the interceptor missile was not programmed with the target's trajectory before the test, reported Ha'aretz newspaper.

Designed to intercept ballistic missiles at altitudes between six and 25 miles, the Arrow system will be deployed at fixed sites in Israel. Unlike the U.S. Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems under development, the Arrow interceptor missile has a blast-fragmentation warhead rather than a hit-to-kill warhead, making it more likely that an incoming missile will be intercepted, but less likely that it will be completely destroyed.

Similar to U.S. theater missile defense efforts, Arrow has been plagued by delays. When Israel first started its theater missile defense program in 1986, the deployment of an initial operating capability was slated for 1995, but Israeli defense officials now estimate that such a capability will not be available until the middle of next year. The United States is paying for approximately $600 million of the estimated $1.6 billion program, which will finance deployment of two Arrow batteries, and the U.S. Congress recently approved $45 million to help fund Israeli acquisition of a third.