Successful missile defense test: 'Israelis can sleep soundly'

Monday, February 12, 2007

TEL AVIV Israel has reported a successful test of its Arrow-2 missile defense system meant to simulate Iran's Shihab-3 intermediate-range missile.

Officials said the Arrow-2 underwent its first night flight to test the system's capability to respond and track enemy missiles fired after dark, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Arrow can deal with the future threats of Iran and Syria as we see them today," Col. Moshe Patel, deputy director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, said. "I think that Israelis can sleep soundly." "The Arrow weapon system marked tonight an important milestone by completing another successful test," the Defense Ministry said on late Sunday. "The test, the 15th for the interceptor, the tenth for the complete weapon system, is part of the Arrow System Improvement Program, ASIP, conducted jointly by Israel and the United States."

The statement said the test aimed to widen the Arrow's interception envelope as well as ensure integrated operational configuration of two missile defense batteries. The ministry said the target missile simulated a "yet non-existent ballistic missile operating under extreme conditions."

"The target trajectory demonstrated an operational scenario and all the system's components performed in their operational configuration," the ministry said.

Officials said the Arrow's fire control radar acquired the target missile and relayed data to the battle management command and control, or BMC. The launcher received mission command instructions and the interceptor was fired.

"We have deemed this a complete success," Uri Sinai, manager of IAI's MLM division, said. "In this test, we simulated a very difficult threat, more dangerous than in the past. The Arrow system is meant to deal with a range of threats. The question of the nuclear threat is the main target of the Arrow missile."

The Arrow-2 test took place at 9:18 p.m. in southern Israel, officials said. They said the target missile was the Black Sparrow, produced by the state-owned Rafael, Israel Armament Development Authority, and fired from an Israel Air Force F-15 fighter-jet.

The Arrow-2 launcher was located at the Palmahim air force base south of Tel Aviv. Officials said the interception of the Black Sparrow took place over the Mediterranean Sea.

The Defense Ministry said this was the first test of the Arrow-2 interceptor produced in the United States. Boeing and the state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries have been prime contractors of the Arrow-2, enhanced to confront Iranian missiles.

Officials said the Arrow-2 maintained a higher altitude than its predecessor in an attempt to intercept enemy missiles with nuclear warheads. They said the interceptor was also equipped with a software upgrade.

The Arrow-2 system was deployed in northern Israel during the Lebanon war in mid-2006. But the system was not used, and military sources said the radar failed to track medium-range rockets fired by Hizbullah from Lebanon. On Monday, Palestinian gunners fired five Kassam-class short-range missiles into Israel.

IAI's Elta Electronic Industries has produced the fire control radar for the Arrow-2. Tadiran Systems developed the BMC as well as the launch control center. Israel Military Industries produced the first-stage engine, and Rafael completed the second-stage engine.

Copyright 2007 East West Services, Inc.

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