Arrow III, an upgraded component of the Israeli missile shield, was successfully tested for the second time, the country’s Defense Ministry announced. The kamikaze satellites launched by the system are capable of intercepting missiles in space.
A long-range Arrow III interceptor was fired from Palmahim air
base, south of Tel Aviv, on Friday morning. It left the Earth’s
atmosphere, carried out maneuvers in space and having fulfilled
its mission fell into the Mediterranean. The test lasted 10
minutes. No real missiles were targeted.
"The Arrow III interceptor successfully launched and flew an exo-atmospheric trajectory through space," Israel's Defense Ministry said in a statement, Reuters reported.
The kamikaze satellites, fired by the Arrow III system, have been also known as "kill vehicles." They are able to identify and trail chemical, biological or nuclear warheads above the Earth's atmosphere. The interceptors then ram into the missiles and destroy then at an altitude, where the disintegration is safe.
The kind of missiles Arrow III can intercept are used by Iran and Syria, and are believed to be held by Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Yair Ramati, head of the Defense Ministry's Israel Missile Defense Organization, says that the country needs the upgraded version of Arrow as part of its missile defense in a region where "all sides are improving.”
“We need to be one step ahead," he was cited as saying by The Jerusalem Post.
Friday’s test was according to Israeli Defense Ministry visited by US officials, as the Pentagon together with US firm Boeing are partners in the project run by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The first successful trial of Arrow III was held in February 2013. The interceptor was then sent up an altitude of 100 kilometers.
Arrow III is expected to become operational not later than 2016. The system’s previous version, Arrow II, which has been deployed for more than a decade has reportedly scored around a 90 percent success rate in live trials.
The three-tier Israeli missile shield consists of the long-range Arrow intercepting system, the mid-range "David's Sling" , still under development, and the successfully operating short-range "Iron Dome."