Analysis of the Arrow 3 ballistic missile interceptor test performed early this year suggests that Israel will be able to shorten the time required to achieve operational status with the system, Israeli sources say.

During a flight conducted on 25 February by Israel's Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency, an Arrow 3 interceptor performed an exo-atmospheric trajectory through space, in accordance with the test plan.

The Arrow 3 interceptor is designed to provide an additional level of defence against ballistic missiles, by improving Israel's active defence architecture. The main contractor for the integration and development of the Arrow Weapon System is Israel Aerospace Industries' MLM division, in conjunction with Boeing.

Lighter than the interceptor used in Israel's operational Arrow 2 system, the new round will intercept incoming missiles outside the atmosphere. During its "end game", the super-manoeuverable kill vehicle will achieve a final impact, which will not be dependent on any sensors on the ground.

Analysis of the February test shows that the Arrow 3 interceptor has the agility and range to handle "complicated targets", the Israeli sources say.

According to its manufacturer, the new system features improved detection, discrimination and fire control capabilities, which will permit two and possibly three chances to kill each incoming weapon. The Arrow 3 architecture will have a very high probability of intercepting any suspected nuclear missile, and be able to also engage salvos of longer-range ballistic missiles equipped with countermeasures, it adds.

An air launch of two Rafael Silver Sparrow target missiles from an Israeli air force Boeing F-15 on 9 September was also connected to the accelerated development of the Arrow 3 system.

Source: Flight International