“We have made a breakthrough in every part of the system, in the detection arrays, in the launches, even in the interceptors themselves, so that they match the threats that are expected in the region. There were highly, highly significant technological breakthroughs here that were assessed and can be used by the air force in its operational systems immediately,” Patel said.
According to Boaz Levy, president and CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which produces the Arrow 3, the advancements were mostly in the field of “algorithms,” or the methods by which the systems identify impending threats calculate interceptor launch trajectories.
“I won’t go into detail, but it improves the system’s ability to deal with threats,” Levy told reporters.
The live-fire test took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning over central Israel, with two Arrow 3 interceptors fired at the same target.
“The operational radar arrays of the Arrow system detected the target and sent the data to the fire management system, which analysed the data and fully plotted the interception. Once the plans were completed, two Arrow 3 interceptors were fired at the target, and they completed their mission successfully,” the Defence Ministry stated in a statement.
According to Levy, the firing of two interceptors was purposeful and prepared in advance, rather than the result of one interceptor failing to shoot down the simulated inbound target. He stated that the two interceptors were assigned “two separate missions” in the exercise, with two different flight routes to shoot down the same target. “They were executed just as we intended,” Levy remarked.
Patel said that this more closely resembles what would happen in a real-world bombardment and marks the first occasion that two interceptors were fired at the same time. He declined to elaborate on the actual height at which the interceptors shot down the target, only saying that it was “deep in space.”
The Arrow 3 is Israel’s most sophisticated long-range missile defence system at the moment, designed to intercept ballistic missiles while they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere, destroying projectiles and their nuclear, biological, chemical, or conventional payloads closer to their launch locations. It was created as part of a collaboration between the Missile Defence Organization of the Defence Ministry and the American Missile Defence Agency. The Arrow 4, a more sophisticated system, is currently being developed.
After months of delays and technical issues, the Arrow 3 was successfully tested for the first time in February 2018. The missile is an exo-atmospheric hypersonic anti-ballistic missile. According to IAI officials,Arrow 3 may serve as an anti-satellite weapon.