Following Iran's provocative test firing last week of its medium-range ballistic missile the Shahab-3, which is capable of hitting Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday the successful test firing of Israel's own Arrow-3 ballistic missile shield over Alaska,tests previously considered secretive.
“The performance was perfect - every hit a bull’s eye,” Netanyahu, who doubles as defense minister, said in a statement following the three secret "live interception" tests held in coordination with the United States and the missile system's maker, Boeing Co. The Arrow-3 is touted as being able to shoot downincoming missiles in space, or while a hostile missile is still outside the earth's atmosphere, and is the "bottom tier" and longest range integration on top of the the short-range Iron Dome interceptor.
Specifically the Arrow-3 is designed to take out advanced ballistic missiles in Iran and Syria's arsenal. The tests were held in Alaska due to Israel not being considered a capable hosting site given the system's specifications, as well as likely the current soaring regional tensions with Iran.
“Today Israel has the capabilities to act against ballistic missiles launched at us from Iran and from anywhere else,” Netanyahu said on Sunday. “All our foes should know that we can best them, both defensively and offensively.”
“They were successful beyond any imagination. The Arrow 3 – with complete success – intercepted ballistic missiles beyond the atmosphere at unprecedented altitudes and speeds,” the Israeli PM added. However, no details regarding what altitudes were reached during the testing were given.
During the Alaska tests the Israeli Arrow-3 missiles were also integrated with the US' long-range, very high-altitude active electronically scanned array surveillance radar which globally assists in early detection of hostile projectiles with a range up to 2,900 miles. As Reuters summarized:
Israel’s Ministry of Defense said that, as part of the Alaska tests, Arrow-3 was successfully synched up with the AN-TPY2 radar - also known as X-band - which provides the United States with extensive global coverage. Israel hosts an X-band battery.
“We are committed to assisting the government of Israel in upgrading its national missile defence capability to defend the state of Israel and deployed U.S. forces from emerging threats,” Vice Admiral John Hill, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency, said in a statement.
The Arrow-3 system, once fully integrated with the Iron Dome and the medium-range 'David's Sling,' will mark the highest level in Israel's multi-tiered missile defense network.
No doubt, the publication of the weekend tests doubly serves asa strong message of warning to Iran amid soaring tensions and a US military build-up in the Persian Gulf after tit-for-tat drone shoot downs over the past month and ongoing "tanker war".