Israel performed a successful first test firing of Rafael's Blue Sparrow air-launched target from an air force Boeing F-15 fighter on 15 April, with the system simulating the trajectory, thermal image and radar cross-section signature of threats such as Iran's approximately 1,800km (970nm)-capable Shihab-3 intercontinental-range ballistic missile.

The Israel Aerospace Industries Arrow anti-ballistic missile system's Green Pine radar detected the Blue Sparrow target and locked on to the simulated threat following its launch from over the Mediterranean Sea.

Blue Sparrow launch 
© Rafael

A follow-on test to be performed later this year will culminate in a full intercept of the GPS/INS-guided target, which Rafael says can simulate the carriage of a bulk chemical or high-explosive warhead and uses a post-boost three axis attitude control system.

 Black Sparrow
© Rafael

Israeli sources say Iran recently tested the solid fuel boosters of an advanced ballistic missile dubbed Ashura, which is believed will have a range of 2,500km when fired from a mobile launch vehicle. A first test launch is anticipated next year, according to the sources.