Unrest in the Middle East, and in particular concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, means Israel is accelerating development of its high-altitude Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system. The technology involved is quite remarkable.
Israeli Col. Aviram Hasson, who leads the Arrow 3 missile project, explained the accelerated development and testing of the missiles as related to the growing Iranian nuclear threat. “We want to reach a situation in which Israel has a ready defense for any threat, present or future,” he said.
US-Israel Joint Venture
Israel has been working with the United States for years to develop the Arrow anti-ballistic missile defense system. The joint venture program recently hit a bit of a snag when Israel expressed chagrin over the US disclosure of what it deemed classified information about the project. US military spokesmen are saying that the information disclosed is general information that has to be public anyway for the contractor bidding process.
The U.S has committed to build Israel a state-of-the-art facility to house the Arrow 3. As with all Defense Department projects, detailed specifications were made public so that contractors could bid on the $25 million project. The specifications included more than 1,000 pages of details on the facility, ranging from the heating and cooling systems to the thickness of the walls.
The apparent Israeli frustration over the US posting of sensitive military information seems to be over stated. At least it has been quelled. Israeli military officials are not new to the US procurement process, nor to contractor bidding procedures. The surprise seemed to be that a top-secret military project in Israel could have specific details published in the US on a government website meant for contractors interested in bidding for the work.
Lt. Col. Peleg Zeevi, the head of the bidding process at Israel’s Defense Ministry, publically recited Israel’s long history of relying on the United States to help build military installations. His conciliatory remarks seemed meant to calm the troubled waters. Col. Zeevi said that Israel needed US “knowledge, ability, and experience” in getting this key defensive system operational.
Arrow 3 Technologically Advanced
Israeli officials have said that the Arrow 3 project boosts the missile’s range and operational altitude to knock out hostile ballistic missiles, whether carrying nuclear or conventional warheads, outside Earth’s atmosphere to minimize fallout. There are a host of other tactical, logistical, and operational improvements.
If you are new to the Arrow missiles, this latest version has a range of 1,500 miles—far greater than that of the Arrow 2 now in service. Once the Arrow 3 breaks free of the Earth’s atmosphere, the interceptor breaks away from the launch vehicle and carries out a series of maneuvers in space as it locks onto its target, then rams it in a head-on collision.
The Arrow 3 weighs less than half of what the Arrow 2 does and does not need to know the exact location of the target missile when it is launched, meaning it can adjust to the mission as the threat unfolds.
Just days ago Israel successfully launched an Arrow 3 missiles, which intercepted missiles similar to Iran’s Shihab-3 in a variety of test conditions. It was a rousing success for the much-touted project. It gives Israel, which has so little margin for reaction to a threat, a powerful solution to surprise missile attacks.
Israel’s wider missile defense system is known as “David’s Sling,” a Biblical reference to the shepherd boy, David, who killed the warrior giant Goliath with his shepherd’s sling.
The recent Arrow 3 testing was part of the larger David’s Sling program and the first time the entire system was tasked with identifying the target missile, launching the Arrow 3 missile in response, and successfully shooting the enemy missile down.
Major Roi Pladshaw, Head of the “Arrow” Division of the “Armor” Administration which is responsible for the development of weapons in Israel’s Aerial Defense Formation, remarked “We’re talking about an incredibly advanced missile-defense radar. Its detection capabilities are twice as exact as the ones of the current radar, “Green Pine.”
The advanced Arrow 3 missiles are yet another example of US/Israeli ingenuity in defending the Zionist state.