The "ballistic missiles" that Russian early warning radars detected over the Mediterranean sea on the morning of 3 September have been confirmed as two Sparrow target missiles launched from an Israeli air force Boeing F-15 during a joint Israeli/US test, performed as part of the development of the Arrow 3 ballistic missile interceptor.
Israeli sources claim the Arrow 3 will have characteristics that will precede any other interceptor operational today. The system will use a new missile developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, which will intercept incoming ballistic missiles using a kinetic kill method, instead of the proximity warhead detonation technique fielded with Israel's current Arrow 2 batteries.
Rafael is developing the Silver Sparrow target to simulate the trajectories of long-range ballistic missiles to support future testing of the Arrow 3, having won a competition against IAI. Its third-generation target weighs 3.2t, and is 8m (26ft) long.
The new design follows the 1.4t Black Sparrow, developed in the 1990s to simulate the Scud-B ballistic missile in support of Israel's Arrow 1 programme, and the 1.8t Blue Sparrow (above), which imitates the more advanced Scud-D.
Rafael has signed a co-operation agreement with Raytheon to market its Sparrow series of target missiles to the US Missile Defense Agency for future ballistic missile defence tests, and also for possible use by other allied countries.