March 2, 2011: On February 22nd, the Israeli Arrow anti-missile missile system underwent another successful test at a west coast missile testing facility (Point Mugu in California). The target missile was fired from a floating launcher off the coast. The test included use of a Green Pine radar as well as a Block 4 Arrow 2 missile.
Last year, the United States agreed to continue sharing the expense of developing the Israeli Arrow anti-missile missile system. This includes contributing over a hundred million dollars for work on the Arrow 3. More than half the nearly three billion dollar cost of developing and building Arrow has come from the United States. In addition, American firms have done some of the development work, or contributed technology.
The U.S. has also provided Israel with a mobile X-band radar that enables it to detect incoming ballistic missiles farther away. Currently, the Israeli Green Pine radar can only detect a ballistic missile fired from Iran when the missile warhead is about two minutes from hitting a target in Israel. The X-band radar allows the Iranian missile to be spotted when it is 5-6 minutes away, enabling the Israeli Arrow anti-missile missile to hit the Iranian warhead farther away and with greater certainty. The Arrow 3 is expected to need something like the X-band radar, to take advantage of the longer missile range. The Arrow 3 could also use satellite or UAV warnings of distant ballistic missile launches. Arrow 3 weighs about half as much as Arrow 2 and costs about a third less. First tests of Arrow 3 are to take place this year.
Last year, Israel began increasing the production of its Arrow anti-missile missiles. Costing over three million dollars each, and partly constructed in the United States (by Boeing), the Arrow missiles are Israel's principal defense against Syrian and Iranian ballistic missiles. Since Arrow entered service ten years ago, only about 120 missiles have been built. Currently, Israel has about a hundred Arrows available, and would like to increase that to 150 or 200 in the next few years.
Israel has two batteries of Arrow, each one has 4-8 launchers, and each launcher carries a six missiles in containers. The Arrow was developed to knock down Scud type missiles fired from Syria, Saudi Arabia or Iraq. The two ton Arrow 1 is being replaced with the 1.3 ton Arrow 2, which can shoot down longer range ballistic missiles fired from Iran. Israel is currently developing and testing an upgraded Arrow 2, which can take down longer range Iranian missiles. The even more effective Arrow 3 is not expected to be ready for use for at least three years. Israel is also looking into buying a land based version of the American Aegis anti-missile missile, which has a longer range than Arrow 2.