By Ben Kurstein
An Israeli expert on missile defense hailed Monday’s successful test of the Arrow 3 system, saying “What can I say? Another success.”
Arrow 3 is designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles aimed at Israel, especially by Iran, which is stepping up its ballistic missile program.
Yiftah Shapir — head of the Middle East Military Balance Project at the Tel Aviv University-affiliated Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) think tank — said of the test, “What can I say? Another success. While it’s still a long time before it becomes operational, but it’s going to be yet another layer in the multi-layered missile defense that Israel has.”
Israel uses the famed Iron Dome system to intercept short-range projectiles and the David’s Sling system for medium-range threats.
“The Arrow 3 is specifically designed against very long-range missiles in terms of the Middle East, which means mostly the Iranian threat of ballistic missiles with ranges of over 1,500 kilometers, which is basically the difference between Israel and Iran,” Shapir told The Algemeiner.
Asked when the system would be fully operational, Shapir said implementation would take some time.
“A few years,” he said. “It’s always a very long process of introducing a new system and it’s not like… people come to think of it as buying a car, and you just get the keys and start driving. You are introducing a very complex system like the Arrow 3, it’s a very long process.”
In addition to the challenges of getting the system off the ground, “it’s also an ongoing process once your missile is declared operational, which is a milestone, but then the system continues to evolve over time and new upgrades are being introduced constantly,” Shapir said.
Over time, Shapir added, “bugs are being corrected and you have better reaction times, better accuracy over time.” Arrow 3’s predecessor, the Arrow 2, “which is almost 20 years in service, is not the system that was introduced back in 2000. It is evolving over time.”
Asked whether Arrow 3 would prove to be a game-changer in Israel’s ongoing conflict with Iran, Shapir expressed skepticism.
“Stategic shifts are very gradual,” he stated. “We keep improving and they keep improving all the time. So you never have an earthquake, a break that changes things from one end to another. And usually technology doesn’t do that. It’s usually advertised as being capable of doing it but usually it does not.”
The Israeli newspaper Globes quoted Boaz Levy — general manager and executive vice president of Israel Aerospace Industries Systems, Missiles & Space Group, which co-developed Arrow 3 — saying on Monday, “The test carried out in the early hours of this morning was extremely complex. In the course of it we launched the interceptor which flew through the atmosphere deep into space. The missile’s performance met all expectations. We are happy with the results.”