Arrow 3 operational as new defense era begins

Arrow 3 Photo: Ministry of Defense

If Israel's first Arrow 3 interceptor misses the target, there will be enough time to launch another missile interceptor.

Israel entered a new era in air defense today. After years of research and development, the Ministry of Defense Homa Administration (Israel Missile Organization), part of the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, and the US Missile Defense Agency delivered the first new Arrow 3 advanced air defense system interceptors to Israel air force air defense units. 17 years after the Arrow system was first made operational, the Arrow 3 is extending and upgrading Israel's air defense. It provides Israel with new capabilities in intercepting ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads while these are still far away from us in outer space. In other words, Arrow 3 interception is not the Iron Dome interception of a Grad missile. Regardless of how much you gaze skyward, you will hear no boom and see no smoke.

Today's ceremony at the Palmachim air force base means that if someone in Iran or any distant country presses the button tomorrow, the interception office on duty in the air defense system can launch the Arrow 3 at the missile threat.

The advantage of the Arrow 3 is not merely its ability to intercept missiles bearing evil payloads far away from Israel's borders, while preventing complications caused by poisonous and hazardous fallout liable to be emitted following the explosion. Operationally, these missiles are designed to significantly increase the interception opportunities available to Israel when needed. If the first Arrow 3 interceptor fired misses its target missile, and that can happen, the interception officer at one of the Arrow 3 batteries will have enough time to launch another Arrow 3 interceptor at the missile threat.

Even if interception does not take place, Arrow 2 interceptors, which have undergone a series of upgrades, revisions, and adaptations since being made operational by the air force, will also be directed at the target missile. The Arrow 2 Block 4 missiles currently possessed by the air force are extremely advanced and up-to-date. They are capable of intercepting all the missiles and heavy rockets in the arsenal of Israel's enemies when the day of decision comes. Even though Arrow 3 missiles have smaller dimensions than Arrow 2 missiles, and there is a significant difference in their interception method, compared with the older Arrow missiles, they can be launched against enemy missiles using the existing infrastructure. A senior Homa source says that declaration of the new missiles as operational requires no substantial changes in the deployment of the missile batteries. These batteries operate from two sites, Palmachim and Ein Shemer, and are connected to the Oren Adir (Magnificent Pine) radar system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) subsidiary Elta Systems. "The entire Arrow system is able to work together, and speaks the same language," the source stated. "New and important capabilities have been added to the command and control center and to the radar detection system, whose capabilities against the future threats expected in this area have been upgraded."

IAI is the chief contractor in the Arrow 3 program, and US company Boeing is the senior partner. Components linked to the new missiles system are produced in Boeing's US plants, imported to Israel, and assembled in Israel at IAI's Malam factory. With the delivery of the new missile interceptors to the air force, other defense companies can also pat themselves on the back for this achievement and take part in the celebratory occasion by opening several bottles of pink champagne. One of these is Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT), which, together with its Elisra Group subsidiary, developed the missile's firing management system, called Golden Citron. Another is Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI), which produced the engine.

A significant milestone

Although the Arrow 3's operational status is an accomplished fact, and constitutes a real milestone on the way to completion of Israel's multi-layer defense system against missiles and rockets, more trials of the weapons system are expected in the future. The Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 array can now provide a complete solution to any threat to Israel posed, and possibly that will be posed in the future, but it needs updates and adjustments from time to time. While Israel is further tightening its defense capabilities, senior missile industry figures, in Iran for example, are burning the midnight oil in an attempt to devise a way of challenging Israel, despite all its missile interceptors. "We're looking many years ahead, and this is definitely a project of predicting the future. Yes, there's a lot of work ahead of us, because we're building our capabilities according to the development of the threats," says a senior Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure source.

That source, incidentally, does not completely rule out the idea that someone will one day also celebrate the air force's procurement of missile interceptors called Arrow 4. "At our Administration, there are always ideas and thoughts, and we're constantly examining technologies of various types that will be suitable in another 10 or 15 years," he says, without elaborating.

IAI VP and Program Director for Air & Missile Defense Systems Boaz Levy adds, "The Arrow 3 system, a product of a development effort lasting many years, based on a multi-atmosphere solution invented by IAI, is today becoming a reality. This is a milestone for the defense establishment and the defense industry in Israel. The air force is receiving an additional air defense layer for high-altitude interception in outer space. Together with the Arrow 2, it is creating the best anti-ballistic missile defense solution. Many industries participated in the development by taking part in key building blocks in the project. These included IAI subsidiary Elta, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., IMI, and Elisra." On a personal note, Levy added, "Today's delivery of the system to the air force constitutes the closing of a circle and the completion of a dream for me as the person who accompanied and led the development and planning of the system for many years."

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 18, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Arrow 3 Photo: Ministry of Defense
Arrow 3 Photo: Ministry of Defense
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