Israel Succesfully Tests Missile Defense System in Alaska

By Victor Westerkamp

Israel in the past two weeks successfully tested the Arrow 3 missile interception system from Kodiak Island in Alaska in cooperation with the American Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

In a press release (pdf) last Sunday, officials said the system adequately intercepted at high altitude three missiles from long range and destroyed them outside the atmosphere in “a high altitude hit-to-kill engagement.”

The defense ministry chose the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska (PSCA) as a launching site because of its relatively open airspace. Such a test is not feasible above the Mediterranean sea with its busy air traffic.

According to the Israeli defense ministry, the launches were done in Alaska “to carry out tests of the system’s capabilities that can’t be done in Israel,” Haaretz reported.

Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, director of the MDA, called the test “another milestone in the development of the Arrow weapon system,” according to the statement.

“This unique success in Alaska provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing threats in the region,” he continued. “My congratulations to the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), our MDA team, and our industry partners. We are committed to assisting the Government of Israel in upgrading its national missile defense capability to defend the State of Israel from emerging threats.”

IMDO Director, Moshe Patel said: “Ten challenging years of development have culminated at this moment: the Arrow 3 weapon system completed a test campaign, during which an Arrow 3 interceptor completed full interception of the target. This is an extraordinary operational and technological achievement for the State of Israel, made possible by thousands of employees, engineers, and officers from the Ministry of Defense, Israeli defense Industries, Israeli Air Force and our U.S. partners.”

He continued: “In addition, the fact that the tests were conducted in Alaska, tens of thousands of kilometers away from Israel, is another significant achievement that demonstrates the operational capabilities of the Arrow 3 system to face any threat successfully.”

“The performance was perfect—every hit a bull’s eye,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also Israel’s defense minister, said, Reuters reported. “All our foes should know that we can best them, both defensively and offensively.”

On July 24, Iran tested a Shahab-3 mid-range ballistic missile above the Mediterranean, The New York Times reported.

The Arrow 3 is an American-Israeli produced third-generation missile defense system that will replace the current version, Arrow2, which has been in use since 2017.

The development of the Arrow system, as well as the project, was U.S.-funded for the most part, and is the state-of-the-art in anti-ballistic missile attack systems.

Arrow 3 will be part of a fourfold missile defense system along with the short-range Iron Dome defense system, the medium-range David’s Sling, and the long-range Arrow 2 to defend intercept missiles from Iran or Hezbollah or Hamas groups.

The preparations and tests were performed in secrecy, and only some high-profile personnel, like Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, traveled to Alaska to witness it.