Jan 23, 2014
IAI begins Arrow 3 production
20 years ago, Israel unveiled its technological capabilities in response to the missile threat against the home front, making it a global pioneer in missile defense. In 2000, the Arrow system was declared operational, and it seems that as the missile threat expands and grows stronger.
The latest test of the Arrow 3 was successfully completed in early January, giving the green light to complete the system which will add the upper layer to Israel's missile defense. For a decade, the IDF and IAI have been developing the Arrow 3, with generous financial aid from the US.
The IDF campaigned against steep cuts in the defense budget, which included several attempts to add the Arrow to the long list of strategically critical projects that were delayed or frozen for years. A few weeks ago, the IDF proved once again that the best spin is only that: the Arrow program has continued on schedule, with no slowdowns, no cuts, and a lot of determination.
A critical test of the new missile will be carried out in a few weeks. In this test, for the first time, the missile's operators will have to intercept a target missile that will simulate an incoming Iranian Shahab ballistic missile.
Although so far the Arrow 3 has only succeeded in intercepting threats to its R&D funding, the Ministry of Defense and IAI engineers are so convinced that the missile will work that they have decided not to waste precious time and to begin production.
Few interception tests are planned anyway, and if the tests that will be carried out indicate a gap between planned and actual performance, minor software updates should be able to correct them. An announcement that the Arrow 3 is operational is due is 2015.
The Arrow 3 is an evolutionary development of the Arrow 2. The next generation of the Arrow was developed with an eye to the latest threats in the missile arena: the program planner's guiding principle was that if Israel were to face nuclear-tipped missiles, it was best to intercept them as far away as possible. In addition to the environmental importance of intercepting unconventionally armed missiles above the atmosphere, the Arrow 3 gives the ground crew the time needed to fire an interceptor against an incoming missile and to fire a second interceptor if the first one misses.
Under these circumstances, the Arrow 2 will be the second interceptor. Batteries are already deployed at Ein Shemer and Palmachim.