Israel’s upgraded ballistic missile shield became operational, in an extension of its capabilities to outer space where incoming missiles can be safely destroyed. Israel’s Defense Ministry said the US-funded Arrow 3 system, jointly developed by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries and US firm Boeing Co., was handed over to the Israeli Air Force, which together with the Arrow 2 system, which has been operational since the year 2000 – significantly reducing the possibilities of ballistic missiles hitting the Jewish state. “Today we are entering a new era. The Arrow 3 era. We are very proud to deliver to the air force, initially, the first capability of Arrow 3. We built (it) during the last, almost 10 years, together with middle defence agency and with a lot of help from U.S congress and U.S administration, this system,” said Moshe Patel, Israel Missile Defense Org. Director.
The Arrow 2 system is designed to intercept projectiles high and low within the atmosphere, as opposed to the Arrow 3 system which fires missiles into space, where their warheads detach to become so-called “kamikaze” satellites, or “kill vehicles”, that track and slam into their targets. Such high-altitude shoot-downs are meant to safely destroy incoming nuclear, biological or chemical missiles, and is a direct answer to the Iranian ballistic missile threat, which on a regular basis calls for Israel’s destruction. “Arrow 3 system is another piece in our multi-tier concept such as the Arrow 2, the David’s Sling and the Iron Dome, that will bring us for another era dealing with incoming threats from the north, from the east, from north state actors and states as well,” said Tzvika Haimovich, IDF Aerial Defense Command Chief.
The Arrow systems serve as the top tier of an integrated Israeli shield built up to withstand various potential missile or rocket salvoes. The bottom tier is the already-deployed short-range Iron Dome interceptor, whichh was used extensively with high success rates in the 2014 Gaza war against the Islamist Hamas organization. Another Israeli system called David’s Sling is being developed to shoot down mid-range, lower-altitude missiles, such as those in the arsenal of Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a Lebanese group which last fought a war with Israel in 2006 and was defined by Israel’s top defense officials as the main and most immediate threat the Jewish state faces today.