Missile Defense ‘Leap’: US and Israel Intercept Test Targets in Space

Arrow 3 test. Photo courtesy of the US Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency. www.mda.mil.

The multi-layer missile defense program jointly developed by Israel and the United States is meant to combat missiles at many levels—short range, long range, and now after the latest test, even missiles in space. Certain types of long-range missiles travel through space to reach their target, but the latest test of the Arrow 3 defense system showed even that can be defeated. The Arrow 3 system successfully hit three long-range ballistic missiles in space in a recent secret test carried out in Alaska.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasn’t coy about the enemy that this defense is most needed against. “Today Israel has the ability to act against ballistic missiles that could be launched against us from Iran or anywhere else. This is a great achievement for the security of Israel,” said the Israeli leader in comments on Sunday released by his office. “All of our enemies should know that we will overcome them in both defense and offense.”

Netanyahu was also emphatic about what the test achieved. “They were successful beyond any imagination. The Arrow 3—with complete success—intercepted ballistic missiles beyond the atmosphere at unprecedented altitudes and speeds. The execution was perfect—all precise hits… I would like to make it clear here that metal hit metal; it was not just a proximity detonation. The missile hit the missile all three times. This is a great achievement.”

The Defense Ministry Directorate of Defense Research and Development head Dr. Danny Gold was quoted in the press release as stating the intercepts occurred in space. “This is an unprecedented operation,” said Gold. “This is a technological, operational and logistical breakthrough.”

US Ambassador David Friedman was also present for the Israeli cabinet meeting discussing the Arrow 3 test, and he not only pointed to the “extraordinary” results, but also to the special relationship between the US and Israel the test demonstrates. “This is an extraordinary and an unprecedented example of the cooperation between our two great countries and from here may we continue to go upward and onward in making the world a safer place,” said Friedman.

The test comes as Iran has repeatedly been antagonizing the West in their ongoing nuclear dispute. From sabotaging oil tankers to capturing ships to shooting down a US drone, Iran has recently escalated their efforts to pressure the Europeans into making economic concessions to mitigate the effect of US sanctions. The context of this conflict is the Iran nuclear deal, which the US exited a year ago, with Washington demanding a supplemental agreement that would address key flaws in the nuclear accord.

Iran has also not been shy about stating their willingness to attack Israel, either as a means of retaliation to US military action against Iran or in general.

With that in the background, US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill was quoted on the MDA website as saying of the Arrow 3 test, “This unique success in Alaska provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing threats in the region.

“My congratulations to the Israel Missile Defense Organization, 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.”

Netanyahu, in his comments, also thanked the Americans and others involved in the program, while noting its importance. Said Netanyahu, “I want to thank all of the engineers and developers who brought about this breakthrough, this leap forward, which is considerable for the security of Israel with very great significance, especially at this time.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, July 28, 2019)

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