Arrow-3: the export market moves one step closer

Things that were almost unthinkable until very recently now look totally different.

One very good example is the option to export the Israeli Arrow anti-ballistic missile system. This development is correlated in many ways both with the international situation and with the imminent fly-out test of the Arrow-3 – the most advanced version of the Israeli ballistic missile interceptor.

The USA has been funding the different phases of the Arrow weapon system (AWS) development and therefore Washington has to approve any export of the Arrow.

For the last ten years, Boeing has manufactured some of the Arrow missiles. That enabled Israel to use the foreign military financing (FMF) granted annually by the USA to increase the inventory of missiles that are part of the two operational Arrow-2 systems deployed in Israel.

But the world has undergone some very dramatic changes in recent years and that has caused a new way of thinking in Washington. Processes are slow in the American capital , but they are accelerated by the reality.

The first sign of that new approach appeared in January, when Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) expanded its agreement with Boeing on the AWS.

According to the official press release, the IAI-Boeing strategic teaming agreement aims to “explore and develop new opportunities in the missile defence arena”.

The USA has not only funded some of the Arrow development phases, but has also taken an active role in the continuous development.

In February 2011, an Israeli improved Arrow-2 anti-ballistic interceptor was successfully tested in a test range in the USA.

A target missile was launched from a US navy ship off the west coast. The Arrow-2 Block 4 was launched from a US facility on the coast.

The improved Arrow-2 intercepted the target missile after its “Green Pine” ground radar detected it. That was not the first Arrow test in the USA.

The fact that the improved version achieved a kinetic hit was very significant.

The Arrow-2 is designed to destroy ballistic missiles with a proximity-operated warhead, but in this test it achieved a kinetic kill.

Israel Aerospace Industries is currently developing the Arrow-3, a totally different interceptor that is designed for kinetic kills of ballistic missiles armed with unconventional warheads.

The fact that in last year’s test in the USA a kinetic kill was achieved tells the whole story – the USA is very involved in the development of the Arrow-3 and is showing signs that it will approve its export to selected countries.

There has been a “traditional” list of potential customers. This includes Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore.

These countries know the capabilities of the Arrow system, and that it’s the best ballistic-missile operational interceptor. Will one of them be the first foreign customer?

If a request were to be made, Washington may approve and Boeing would be the prime contractor. The infrastructure for the export of the Arrow has already been built.

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