The U.S.-Israel Arrow program passed another milestone Feb. 22 with the spectacular, nighttime head-on intercept of a sea-based, long-range target off the California coast.
Part of the ongoing, jointly funded Arrow System Improvement Program, the test validated new Block 4 versions designed to improve discriminating capabilities of the Arrow 2 interceptor, the Green Pine searchand-track radar and the Citron Tree battle management control system.
“To see that explosion off the shores of California was truly gratifying,” Arieh Herzog, director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, told reporters via teleconference shortly after the nighttime launch at the U.S. Navy’s Point Mugu Sea Range. “It was a body-to-body impact that completely destroyed the target.”
Herzog said validation of the Block 4 software would provide the Israel Air Force “with a better system than they have now.” The software upgrades, he said, improve detection capabilities and lethality needed to defend against “new and different threats.”
In a Feb. 22 statement, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) noted that the Green Pine radar successfully detected and tracked the target, transferred information to the Citron Tree management control system and launched the Arrow interceptor, “which performed its planned trajectory and destroyed the target missile.” The MDA noted that the test “represented a realistic scenario” and involved operationally ready elements of the system.
In an interview in February, Herzog said the sea-based target, provided by the MDA and launched from a mobile launch platform, was “representative of threats we face in this theater.” Herzog declined to provide details, but experts here said the target simulated increasingly longer-range missiles equipped with decoys designed to disorient and confuse defensive interceptors. A program official cited projected threats from upgraded versions of Syrian Scud-D and Iranian Shahab, Ashura and BM-25 missiles as drivers for continuous upgrades to Israel’s defensive capabilities.
“We need to create all kinds of bodies in space to do discrimination against decoys. These features went into production with the Block 4,” the program official said.