Israel's Arrow anti-tactical ballistic-missile system scored a direct hit when it was launched for the first time to intercept a real Scud-B missile. The test was conducted on 29 July at the NAS Point Mugu range in California.
The operational Arrow has previously been tested in Israel against surface- and air-launched targets that simulated ballistic-missile threats. Two Arrow batteries are already protecting central Israel against ballistic-missile attack, while a third will be deployed in the coming years.
To enable the test against a real Scud, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) shipped a full battery to Point Mugu. The Green Pine detection and fire-control phased-array radar and command-and-control systems were deployed at the base, while the Arrow launcher was installed 100km (55nm) offshore on an island that forms part of the test range.
During the trial, a Scud-B was launched by the US Army from an undisclosed location. The Green Pine radar detected it and the Arrow was launched 3min later.
According to Arrow programme manager Boaz Levi, the missile flew a 300km trajectory before it intercepted the Scud-B at an altitude of about 131,000ft (40,000m).
Yair Ramati, general manager of the IAI MLM division that manufactures the Arrow, says there are indications that the Arrow hit the Scud.
"We are still analysing the data to determine whether metal hit metal, but it is clear that the destruction of the Scud was instant and complete," he says.
The Arrow is designed to intercept an incoming ballistic missile and destroy it with an advanced fragmentation warhead detonated by a proximity fuze.
The Arrow will be tested again in the USA later this month, this time against a Scud missile that has been adapted to simulate the new generation of ballistic missiles, which carry multiple warheads and decoys.
ARIE EGOZI / TEL AVIV