NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY
For more than a decade, the Arrow has been the cornerstone of U.S.-Israel defense cooperation.
The Arrow is the world’s only operational anti-missile system that has consistently proven that it can shoot down another missile at high altitude and speed.
As America and Israel’s adversaries continue to develop new military capabilities, the two allies are working together to develop the Arrow 3 system.
U.S., Israel Test Arrow Missile Off
The United States and Israel last month successfully tested the Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system off the coast of California. The Arrow destroyed a target simulating an Iranian ballistic missile. The drill tested newly developed software that improved the accuracy and effectiveness of the Arrow system.
Israeli defense officials said the “enemy” missile impersonated a “future threat that Israel could one day face in the region.” The U.S. Missile Defense Agency released a statement after the test that expressed confidence in Israel’s missile defense expertise. “The success of the test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System and provides confidence in operational Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat,” it said.
The United States and Israel developed the Arrow in the 1990s in order to defend against long-range missile attacks. Today, the Arrow is the centerpiece of U.S.-Israel defense cooperation. It is the only anti-missile system that has consistently proven that it can shoot down another missile at high speed and altitude.
Long-Range Missile Threats
The Arrow system is designed to defend against the long-range missile threats from Iran and Syria. Tehran has about 300 Shihab-3 missiles, which have a range of about 900 miles. Damascus has acquired as many as 1,000 Scud missiles. These missiles give Israelis a unique fear; during the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scuds at Israel from Iraq, killing several civilians.
Today, Syria can strike any target within Israel with a Scud missile. Reports have also indicated that Syria has armed Iranian-backed terrorist group Hizballah with Scuds.
The United States and Israel will also be paying close attention to Libya, which has Scud-B missiles as well as chemical and mustard gas. Future U.S.-Israel Cooperation
As America and Israel’s adversaries continue to develop new military capabilities, the two allies are working together to develop the Arrow 3 system. The Arrow 3 will protect against the most advanced long-range missiles, such as Iran’s Shihab-4 missile, which will have a range of 1,200 miles. The Arrow 3 will be able to destroy incoming missiles at a higher accuracy rate than the Arrow 2. The first tests of this critical system are expected this year; the system is expected to become operational in 2015.
The Obama administration has made missile defense cooperation a priority for U.S.-Israeli joint defense projects. While work is continuing on the Arrow 3, U.S. and Israeli teams are also developing short- and medium-range missile-defense systems.
The administration has pledged additional funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system, which Israel designed to intercept short-range rockets such as those fired by Hamas in Gaza. Two units are currently deployed in southern Israel. (Israeli officials have said that 13 Iron Dome batteries are needed in order to adequately protect the country from short-range rockets.) Talks are underway with a number of European countries about deploying the Iron Dome to protect NATO forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In addition, the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon designed the David’s Sling, which can intercept the medium- and long-range rockets in Hizballah’s arsenal. BACK TO TOP