Israel runs successful test of ballistic missile interceptor

Let’s start off Thursday with some good news for a change. We recently discussed Iran’s latest violation of international sanctions in the form of testing yet another nuclear capable ballistic missile. No… that’s not the good news. In fact, it’s pretty terrible. But one of the most likely targets of a ballistic missile launched by Tehran, Israel, has answered with a technological advance of their own. After having faltered in early testing in the late 20th century and essentially being abandoned, Israel has successfully tested the Arrow 3 ballistic missile interceptor and shot down a target outside the Earth’s atmosphere. (Yahoo News)

Israel and the United States on Thursday successfully tested a ballistic missile interceptor as the Jewish state seeks to upgrade its defences in the face of regional threats, officials said.

The trial from an Israeli test range involved the Arrow 3 interceptor, designed to shoot down missiles above the atmosphere, with Israel concerned over the potential for attacks from enemies including Iran.

A similar test a year ago failed, but Thursday’s trial intercepted a ballistic missile target above the Mediterranean.

“This successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing threats,” Israel’s defence ministry said.

This weapon system is a holdover from the original Star Wars era development programs initiated under Reagan, and to be honest I thought they’d mostly been abandoned as impractical. The Arrow 3 is listed as a joint development project between the Israeli government and Boeing, and it seems to finally be bearing fruit.

Israel already has some world class defenses against low level missiles with Iron Dome which have continued to pay off big dividends. That system recently made news overseas when it received a “mysterious upgrade.”

A series of tests was performed to “widen the capacity and improve the performance” of the system, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. It added that Israel faces “an unprecedented array of threats” presumably ranging from mortars to long-range missiles from a variety of origins.

The Iron Dome system was developed, after much nay-saying, to counter the rocket threat from Gaza, a territory from which Hamas and other organizations have fired since 2001 upward of 15,200 projectiles at Israel. Sped to the field in a near unfathomable four years, the Rafael-made system was built to counter rocket threats from four to 70 kilometers away.

None of these systems are 100% foolproof, but they do address what is arguable Israel’s biggest vulnerability. Their army is essentially the most fearsome in the region and their air force is similarly feared, but a missile strike from afar could still cause horrific damage. Between Iron Dome and Arrow 3, that threat could be significantly reduced. Of course, Arrow 3 isn’t deployed yet and testing could take quite a while longer, but this is clearly a message directed at Iran.

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