Strategic Weapons: August 15, 2004

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In late July, the Israeli-American Arrow 2 missile passed another successful test by shooting down an SCUD missile. The test took place in California, where a SCUD B missile, fired from a ship, was knocked down by an Arrow missile fired from an island about 100 kilometers off the coast. Israel has over 30 Arrow missiles, and an early warning radar that can distinguish between different types of incoming missiles. But shooting down a SCUD is relatively easy compared to knocking out a longer range missile. Its all about re-entry speed. A SCUD, with a range of about 300 kilometers,  enters the atmosphere and heads for its target at about twice the speed of a rifle bullet (about 1,500 meters a second). The longest range missiles, ICBMs, come in at five times that speed (about 7,000 meters a second.) It takes faster and more accurate systems to intercept the faster warheads. The Arrow was designed to intercept short range ballistic missiles, although it can be upgraded to handle longer range missiles. Iran would eventually use longer range missiles. With Iraq disarmed, Syria is the only local foe threatening Israel with short range ballistic missiles.

 


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