Israel is set to carry out a joint test of its Arrow 3 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) defense system in the United States next year, the first time such a test will occur outside of Israeli territory.
The exercise, which will be carried out in cooperation with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), is set to take place on the Alaskan island of Kodiak where the system will be tested against targets simulating advanced ballistic missiles being developed by Iran.
Israel and the United States are concerned that Iran has continued to work on both its nuclear program as well as its ballistic missile program despite international criticism. In light of the perceived missile threat, the two allies have worked together to develop several missile defense systems, including the Arrow 3, which was co-managed by the US Missile Defense Agency and IMDO, a division of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
Considered one of the world’s best interceptors due to its breakthrough technological capabilities, the Arrow 3 is a highly maneuverable system designed to provide ultimate air defense by intercepting ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
MDA Director US Navy Vice Admiral James Syring was quoted by Alaskan media as telling a congressional meeting last week that the “[Arrow 3] has significant range constraints within the Mediterranean. One of the better places to test is in Alaska, from Kodiak, and we intend to do that next year.” But according to Craig Campbell, the CEO of Alaska Aerospace Corp, the deal to carry out the test has not yet been finalized.
“The Missile Defense Agency, MDA, has approached us about doing the Israeli program out of Kodiak, and we are in the process of negotiating that contract today,” Campbell is quoted by Alaska’s KTOO news as saying.
According to KTOO news, the test would be part of the $80 million contract between MDA and the Alaska Aerospace Corp. The Israel Air Force officially received Arrow-3 interceptors from the Israel Missile Defense Organization in January and according to IMDO Director Moshe Patel, further trials of the system were expected as Israel will continue to work with the United States in developing additional capabilities for the system.
In addition to the Arrow system, Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets, and the David’s Sling missile defense system designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 to 300km. The advanced systems provide Israel with a comprehensive protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short and mid-range missiles used by terror groups in Gaza and Hezbollah as well as the threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles. The first use of the Arrow system occurred in April when the system was launched to intercept a Syrian regime air defense fired three surface-to-air missiles towards IAF jets.