Israel, U.S. conduct successful test of Arrow missile

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 30-Jul-04 | Author: Amos Harel| Source: Ha'aretz

An anti-ballistic missile, under development by the United States and Israel, lifts off from Point Mugu Sea Range Thursday, July 29, 2004, off the California coast, as a test of an improved version of the Arrow missile.
Israel and the United States held a successful test of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system off the coast of California yesterday.

The Defense Ministry announced that the Arrow successfully intercepted an incoming Scud missile over the Pacific Ocean, while it was still in flight. This realistic test of the Arrow ABM system was the first of its kind, and had been planned for two years.

Israel developed the $2.2 billion Arrow with American assistance in response to the failure of American Patriot missiles to down the 39 Iraqi Scuds fired at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.

At approximately 8:25 P.M. Israel time, a Scud missile, confiscated by the United States from Iraq, was launched from a U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center at Point Magu near Los Angeles. The Scud was identified by the system's radar, Green Pine, which directed an Arrow missile to the target. The Arrow intercepted the Scud fully.

This "realistic scenario could not be carried out in Israel because of safety reasons," the Defense Ministry announcement explained.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz described the results of the test as "further proof of the technological superiority of Israel's defense industries."

"We are in an age of uncertainty. Countries in the `third circle' [Iran] are continuing their efforts to acquire nonconventional capabilities along with long-range launch capabilities," he added.

Green Pine and the seven-meter-long Arrow missiles are designed to track and destroy incoming threats in under three minutes at altitudes of more than 50 kilometers. Independent experts have estimated the Arrow's success rate at 95 percent, but some doubt whether it would be reliable against a salvo of Iran's most advanced missiles, the Shahab-3.

The Iranian missile travels nearly three times as fast as a Scud and considerably faster than the missiles the Arrow system was designed to intercept.

However, Arrow engineers say the system marks a quantum advance over the Patriot, an anti-aircraft system imperfectly adapted to down ballistic missiles such as Scuds, which travel faster than planes but are unable to reach space.

Aryeh Herzog, who is in charge of the project for the Defense Ministry and the Israel Air Force, said: "We are all happy. The operational implication [of the test] is that the Air Force has an exceptional system. We have known it all along, but now we have added proof. We will continue development. We want to achieve capabilities against future threats, such as those being developed in Iran."

This was the twelfth test of the Arrow missile and the seventh of the overall system, which includes the Green Pine radar.