Israeli Arrow System Downs First Missiles in Combat

December 2023
By Mohammadreza Giveh

Israel used its Arrow-3 missile defense system to shoot down a ballistic missile, marking the system’s first combat interception. The ballistic missile was launched at Israel from the direction of the Red Sea on Nov. 9, presumably by Houthi militants in Yemen.

A version of the Arrow-3 missile defense system that Israel on November 9 used to shoot down a ballistic missile, marking the system’s first combat interception.  (Photo by Sven Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)Produced by Israel Aerospace Industries in collaboration with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the surface-to-surface Arrow missile defense system, considered the top tier of Israel’s multilayered air defenses, is focused on incoming ballistic missiles and consists of the Arrow-2 and the Arrow-3 variants.

The more advanced Arrow-3 is intended to defend against longer-range missile threats and the Arrow-2 to defend against regional short-range or medium-range threats. The Arrow-2 system had its first successful intercept on Oct. 31.

The Nov. 9 interception came as Israel and Hamas militants were waging war in Gaza. It was the Arrow-3’s “first operational interception since its operational deployment in 2017…[and] follows the recent success of the first operational interception” by the Arrow-2 the prior week, according to a joint statement by the Israeli Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Breaking Defense quoted the IDF as saying the missile on Nov. 9 came from the Red Sea region, presumably meaning that Houthi militants launched that attack.

The Arrow-2 interception happened outside the atmosphere at an altitude of approximately 60 miles, making it the first instance of space combat, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“Our armed forces launched a large batch of ballistic and winged missiles and a large number of drones at various targets of the Israeli enemy,” a Houthi spokesperson said in claiming responsibility for the Oct. 31 attacks, according to CNN.