Amid talk of Iran war, Israel accelerates Arrow 3 program

When we hear about Hebollah’s plan to launch 10,000 rockets and Israel on the first day of a war, we wonder if are defenses are adequate. The IDF is silent.  To my mind Israel would never have let Hezbollah’s arsenal get this big if she couldn’t deal with it. I am sure they have a war plan to deal with it. Ted Belman

‘Shahab-3 missile no cause for concern’

Missile expert Uzi Rubin says Iranian long-range missiles, which can hit national infrastructures due to their high precision, pose no threat to Israel; can be intercepted in the air by Arrow 3 missiles

Israel is stepping up its development of the Arrow 3, considered the world’s most advanced anti-ballistic missile system • Israel, U.S. planning “largest” and “most significant” joint exercise in the allies’ history • Iran has missiles that can strike Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf region.

Lilach Shoval, ISRAEL HAYOM
The Arrow 2 anti-missile defense system.

As politicians and the media continue to speculate about a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities and rhetoric escalates between Iran and the West, the Israel Air Force has begun to accelerate its development of the Arrow 3 missile-defense system, Israel Hayom has learned.

The Arrow 3 – considered the most advanced anti-ballistic missile system in the world – is being phased into service and is scheduled to be operational in a year and a half, rather than 2015, the originally scheduled date. The army is also planning to recruit soldiers to serve in specialized Arrow units within six months.

Meanwhile, Israel and the U.S. have also said they are planning the “most significant” joint drill in the allies’ history, to take place next May.

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The Defense Ministry and the U.S. Defense Department signed a deal last July to jointly develop the Arrow 3 as the upper tier of Israel’s multi-tiered air-defense system, which aims to provide a comprehensive shield against various rocket and missile threats. It will operate in conjunction with the Arrow 2, which is already deployed throughout the country.

The Arrow 3 exo-atmospheric interceptor includes a two-stage interceptor based on hit-to-kill technology. Its compact design, outstanding maneuverability and diverse capability serve to enhance its effectiveness against all types of ballistic missiles and warheads. It will be able to intercept intermediate-range ballistic missiles and other weapons 60 miles above the Earth’s surface.

“The closer a missile launched toward Israel is to striking, the faster its speed,” a senior air force official said on Sunday. “Therefore it is preferable to intercept it at an earlier stage.”

“The entire Arrow disposition will change,” the air force official said. He went on to explain that currently the Arrow system is decentralized, with each battery operating as an individual unit.

“With the arrival of the Arrow 3, there will be a centralized command and control point for the system, but the option to have each battery operate separately will still exist should the need arise,” the official said.

Israel has been reinforcing its defenses, and just last week Israel’s Homefront Command conducted a large civil defense exercise in Holon, which included the simulated evacuation of victims of missile strikes to the Wolfson Medical Center. Participants in the drill included civilian emergency services, police rescue services, fire-fighting units, Magen David Adom (ambulance services) and National Emergency Management Authority officials.

A short while after the test ended, the Defense Ministry issued a statement saying, “Israel tested a rocket propulsion system with the launch of a missile from Palmahim Air Force base. The experiment was planned some time ago and was executed as planned. The experiment was successful.” According to foreign media reports, the experiment did not involve the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, and instead tested an Israeli-made offensive ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.

“This was an impressive achievement and an important step in Israel’s missile and space program,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. “The test was planned a while ago, and it once again proved the high technological level of our engineers, technicians, and defense industries.”

The missile test was conducted in tandem with Israel’s participation in a NATO air force exercise in Sardinia, Italy. Fourteen Israel Air Force F-16 fighter jets took part in maneuvers alongside Italian and other NATO planes. The Israeli squadron commander pointed out that the drills focused on long-range offensive maneuvers, and said, “The exercise gave us an excellent platform to test our capabilities in unfamiliar territory. We have a harder time conducting such maneuvers in Israel, due to its size.”

Earlier this year, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) conducted preliminary tests of the Arrow 3 system.

The test was revealed by Aryeh Herzog, then director of the Defense Ministry’s Homa project, which deals with the state’s missile defenses. Held in an undisclosed location in Israel, an Arrow 3 interceptor missile was launched against an incoming projectile, successfully destroying it after a few hundred meters of flight.

The test itself did not involve firing the missile in its full capacity, but aimed only to test its proper separation from the launch container.

Iran factored high in the U.S. and Israel’s decision to develop the Arrow 3 system, particularly in light of declarations by Tehran that it possesses missiles that could strike Israel.

“If the Zionist entity wants to attack us, we will strike at the heart of Tel Aviv before their planes even leave our airspace,” Iranian air force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said this summer. “We have reached the conclusion that we do not need a range of more than 2,000 kilometers, because Israel is no further than this from our borders.”

Iran has conducted at least six test flights of the Shahab 3 missile, which defense analysts have said could hit Israel and U.S. military bases in the Gulf region. This week, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is expected to issue its most detailed report yet on Iran’s nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Israel and the U.S. will embark on the “largest” and “most significant” joint exercise in the allies’ history, U.S. State Department Assistant for Political and Security Affairs Andrew Schubert said Sunday.

Schubert said that 5,000 Israeli and U.S. soldiers would participate in the military exercise in which they would test their defenses against ballistic missiles. He also said such joint exercises would “allow us to learn from Israel’s experience in urban warfare and counterterrorism.”

During the drill, called “Austere Challenge,” Israel and the U.S. plan to test air-defense systems including the Arrow 3 and the Thaad (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), as well as the Arrow 2, Patriot, Magic Wand, Iron Dome, in a simulated ballistic missile attack on Israel.

Israel and the U.S. have conducted joint military drills in recent years – as concern rises in Israel about Iran’s growing arsenal of missiles and nuclear ambitions – with a three-week drill in 2009 the last one to make headlines.

“The challenge is missile interception in an era of planes,” a senior IAF official told Israel Hayom on Sunday. “The Americans are eager to conduct this drill because we are their ‘laboratory’ in this context.”

The IAF’s aerial defense forces have already established a special administrative body to prepare for the joint drill, scheduled for May 2012.

November 7, 2011 | 10 Comments »

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10 Comments / 10 Comments

  1. one must question the thought process of some commentators. putting aside their anti-israel, anti-semetic drivel, come on guys wake up. smell the coffee. if israel is so stupid as to only count on a defensive posture then it deserves all the derision you heap upon it. now i sometimes also question its political and military leadership. but you forget a few things. there is an offensive capability. neither iran, nor hizbola nor hamas have defensive qualities to really speak of. israel has great offensive capabilities when it chooses to employ them. israel will not wait for 30,000 missiles frrom any one. now that iran and hizbolla announced their potential use, by the way this doomed iran and lebanon. israel is free to bomb into the dark ages iran and lebanon. lebanese and iranian citizens better be careful what they wish for. israel can also bomb to dust all iranian religious schools, cities, parliamentary sites. cities. threats mean nothing. iran has now doomed its cities and its citizens to glow in the dark dust. the immoral un will no longer be there to protect these wing nuts. now that israel knows where everybody stands it can act freely. thing about the next time you offer your simple wishful thinking.

  2. It is not political correctness but the practicality of destroying Iran’s nuclear capability which should give Israel’s leaders second thoughts. To destroy part of Iran’s arsenal would be an act of war – all very good so long as she cannot retaliate effectively. The problem is she can and if she can with nuclear weapons that spells disaster.


  4. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…”

    Israel at this point has nothing left to lose by putting an end to this Iranian threat once and for all. The endless pundits and military analysts who claim that the most Israel can do is slow down their progress for a few years do so out of their ignorance of the power of EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse).

  5. Yamit,

    Your link led to a DEBKA article entitled,

    “Obama Set to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Sites by the Fall of 2012

    Duh — “Fall of 2012” means the US Presidential election. This is so obviously a ploy to gain Obama support from Jews and from patriotic Independents, it’s laughable. He wants Israel to WAIT yet another year; while Iran gets more capable in nuclear weapons and delivery systems, Iran sequesters its weapons production facilities into more and more impregnable sites; Iran mends relations with Turkey’s venom-spewing, Jew-hating Erdogan; and Turkey, Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah all coordinate a surprise attack on Israel at a time of their choosing and to their advantage. After the wait, of course, Obama will pull yet another of his long string of double-crosses.

    If the article had said “Summer of 2012”, I would have half believed it. Israel should strike as soon as it’s ready, when Iran isn’t; and they’d better be ready long before this coming Fall, or Summer, or even Winter.

  6. The Debka report talks of Obama deciding to hit Iran in late 2012. That may be far too late considering the Muslim build up and Obama could also cancel the campaign right after his possible re-election. Ehud Barak realistically speaks of Israel having to fight alone on all fronts. It is now hard to imagine that a big war can be averted and the greater the danger to Israel the more likely they will need to use nuclear weapons. Too many enemies of Israel still long for an Israeli defeat and unfortunately it may require a massive destruction of Israel’s enemies to make them back off.

  7. Obama will never stop Iran.Obama is handing country after country to Islamic terrorism and is himself an Islamic TROJAN HORSE

  8. I doubt that the Arrow 3 is 90% effective; but if it is, that means only 1,000 missles will find their target in Israel instead of 10,000. I’m sure that makes everyone in northern Israel feel positively cozy. I suppose the Israeli government feels that if they tweak the system enough, Arrow 3, 4 or 5 will be 95% effective in a few years. Of course, by then the Hizzies will be able to bombard Israel with 30,000 or 40,000 missles, meaning that 1,500 or 2,000 will get through — and probably more deeply into Israel. That should make Israelis from Ashkelon to Golan feel simply snuggly wonderful.

    Keep on waiting Israel, and things will keep getting better and better. Just click your heels together, and say,

    “There’s no place like home… there’s no place like home.”

    and before you know it, Israel will be transformed into Kansas, and you can rejoice in a sea of sunflowers! 🙂