On January 18, Israel’s Defense Ministry said it had completed testing of the Arrow 3 missile defense system.
The Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missile defense complexes have long been in operation as part of Israel’s multi-layered missile defense system, and the country is currently collaborating with the United States on the development of Arrow 4. On January 18, Israel’s Defense Ministry said it had completed testing of the Arrow 3 missile defense system, which is designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside the earth’s atmosphere.
During the test flight, two Arrow-3 interceptors were launched toward the target and successfully completed the mission. According to the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, Arrow 3 may serve as an anti-satellite weapon, which would make Israel one of the world’s few countries capable of shooting down satellites.
The Arrow 3 or Hetz 3 is an exoatmospheric hypersonic anti-ballistic missile, jointly funded, developed and produced by Israel and the United States. It provides exo-atmospheric interception of ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads. The missile may have a reported flight range of up to 2,400 km (1,500 mi).
Project Arrow 3 was started in 2008, with the goal of “a kill ratio of around 99 percent”. The main element of this upper tier will be an exoatmospheric interceptor, to be jointly developed by IAI and Boeing. Among the advanced sensors considered for Israel’s future multi-tier system, are airborne electro-optical sensors deployed on high flying unmanned aerial vehicles and future enhanced “Green Pine” radars, as well as the AN/TPY-2 radar already deployed in Israel, and operated by U.S. forces.
According to reports, Arrow 3 should be able to intercept ballistic missiles, especially those carrying weapons of mass destruction, at altitudes of over 100 km (62 mi), and in greater ranges. It could also be ship-based. Arrow 3 is faster than the Arrow 2 and slightly smaller, weighing nearly half. An Arrow 3 battery is expected to intercept salvos of more than five ballistic missiles within 30 seconds.
Arrow 3 can be launched into an area of space before it is known where the target missile is going. When the target and its course are identified, the Arrow interceptor is redirected using its thrust-vectoring nozzle to close the gap and conduct a “body-to-body” interception. Arrow 3 may have a reduced 30-year life-cycle cost. It should use the same launch system as Arrow 2. Reportedly it will cost $2–3 million per unit, while program cost is estimated at some $700–$800 million over three years.
In February 2021, the Israeli Defense Ministry revealed that it was working with the US to develop a new ballistic missile defense complex called Arrow 4 – the next layer of shield in Israel’s multi-layered missile defense system to defend against more complex threats in the future.