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Country:  Israel
Warhead:  HE
Range:  100 km
Basing:  Land
In Service:  2000
Associated Country:  United States


Arrow, a joint project of Israel and the United States, is one of the most advanced missile defense programs currently in existence. It consists of high-altitude interceptors, deployed in Israel, able to seek and destroy incoming ballistic missiles in their terminal phase, i.e. during the final minutes of descent.


As a small nation surrounded by enemies armed with short and medium-range missiles, Israel’s need for missile defense is considerable. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles at Israel in what many believe was an attempt to unite the Arab nations against a common enemy. Although the recent U.S. invasion eliminated the Iraqi menace, Israel is still threatened by Syria’s Scuds and Iran’s longer-range Shabab-3 missiles. Arrow now gives Israel the ability to defend itself against these weapons of mass destruction.


The Arrow project began in the late 1980s as an Israeli demonstration model submitted to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Since 1988, the U.S. has given Israel more than $1 billion in grants for research and development. In fiscal year 2004, Congress appropriated $154.8 million for the Arrow project, up from $145.7 million the previous year. In April 2004, Israel Aircraft Industries announced a partnership with Boeing to develop components for the system. It is estimated that Boeing’s total long-term contract will exceed $225 million.


Arrow consists of three main components: a phased array radar, a fire control center, and a high-altitude interceptor missile. The phased array radar, known as “Green Pine,” is capable of detecting incoming warheads at a distance of 500 kilometers. This provides adequate radar coverage, since missiles launched at Israel from other Middle Eastern nations will not appear over the horizon before this distance.


The system is designed to work quickly and efficiently. As soon as Green Pine detects an incoming missile, the fire control center, called “Citron Tree,” launches its interceptor missile. The 23-foot long interceptor shoots toward the threat at nine times the speed of sound, and reaches a height of 30 miles in less than three minutes. Once it gets within two seconds of its target, Arrow’s optical detectors aims for the incoming missile’s warhead.


The interceptor’s own explosive warhead detonates within 40 to 50 yards of the missile, allowing Arrow to miss its target and still neutralize the threat. In this manner, Arrow differs from U.S. interceptors like the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) and the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which rely on hit-to-kill technology in which the kinetic force of a precise impact causes the destruction of the threat.


Arrow’s speed and range (approximately 100 kilometers) allow it to intercept incoming missiles at a high enough altitude so that any nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons do not scatter over Israel’s cities and military targets. This high-speed, high-altitude intercept also gives Citron Tree enough time to launch a second interceptor in the event that the first one fails to destroy its target. The fire control center is capable of operating up to 14 interceptors at the same time.


Israel has tested the interceptor 12 times and the entire weapons system seven times. On December 16, 2003, an Arrow interceptor from the Palmachim Air Force Base (south of Tel Aviv) destroyed a Black Sparrow test missile dropped from a F-15 fighter. The flight path of the Black Sparrow was intended to simulate an incoming Scud missile heading toward the Israeli shore.


In a more realistic test on July 29, 2004, an Arrow interceptor launched from the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center at Point Magu (near Los Angeles) successfully destroyed an actual Scud missile over the Pacific Ocean. The Scud was launched from a sea-based platform at its maximum range and speed. After two minutes, Arrow’s Green Pine radar picked up the incoming threat and relayed the information to the Citron Tree battle management center. After another three minutes, the Arrow interceptor was launched. It climbed toward the incoming missile for 90 seconds and detonated against its target at an altitude of 40 kilometers, completely destroying it.


Israel presently has two Arrow batteries deployed on its soil, one at Palmachim to protect Tel Aviv and the other at Ein Shemer near Hadera. The Israeli Defense Force plans to procure 200 interceptors; 100 for each battery. A third battery is in development in the south. Israel is confident that these batteries will defend its citizens against threats from surrounding hostile nations. Many believe that if Israel is attacked by the same number of missiles that Saddam Hussein launched in 1991, Arrow will ensure that Israeli cities see only smoke and scattered debris.


For the U.S., Arrow has provided important technical and operational data. It remains a key element in the Missile Defense Agency’s plan for a layered missile defense architecture, and an example of a successful, affordable program. At the moment, however, the U.S. does not have plans to procure and deploy Arrow.






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O’Sullivan, Arieh. “Arrow Missile Test Succeeds.” The Jerusalem Post, 17 December 2003.
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“Successful Deployment of Arrow Missile System Underpins Strong U.S.-Israel Cooperation,” ISRAEL21c, 1 August 2004.

Israel Conducts Successful Short Range Missile Intercept

July 24, 2009 :: AP :: News

Israel conducted its first live-fire test of its short-range missile defense system last week. The Defense Ministry says it successfully intercepted a missile meant to simulate incoming Katyushas and Kassams.


The test was part of the implementation of "Iron Dome," one component of Israel's comprehensive missile defense program. Started in 2003 but greatly accelerated in 2006, the Israeli Defense Ministry seeks effective defense against both short range missiles from the likes of Hezbollah, as well as the long-range threat presented by Iran's Shahab-class missiles. Iron Dome will address the threat of short range missiles, with deployment scheduled for Gaza and then the Lebanese border.


The Arrow II missile defense component of the IDF's missile defense system, a joint venture of Israeli Aerospace Industries and Boeing, will be part of Israel's protection against longer range missiles. In a test this week—conducted off the coast of California in order to simulate longer launching distances than are possible at Israeli testing sites—was aborted when the interceptor could not establish adequate connection to the radar system. (Article, Link) 

Israeli Missile Defense Test Success

April 29, 2009 :: AP :: News

Arrow Test 4.7.09On April 7, the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted a successful test of the "Arrow" ballistic missile defense system.  The system—a joint venture of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Boeing—was started as a response to the U.S. military's inability to intercept Scud rockets fired on Israel by Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.


The Arrow system, designed to intercept short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, has been tested 17 times since its inception; the missile used in this latest test was the Arrow II.  Israel's dominating security concern right now is the possibility of an attack by Iran, particularly in the form of a Shahab class ballistic missile.  The Shahab-III has a range of up to 1,250 miles, which puts Israel within reach.


Rick Lehner of the Missile Defense Agency called the test evidence of "the most advanced version of the Arrow weapons system in terms of the ability to perform the type of intercept that would be necessary to destroy a ballistic missile target." (Article, Link) 

Barak: Israel Missile Defense Capabilities Rising

October 9, 2007 :: News

Israel will have a shield that will protect it from "about 90 percent of Shihab to Kassam rocket attacks within a few years," Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset State Control Committee on Tuesday.


Furthermore, we are giving high priority to the production of a system involving several projects, which, within a few years, will provide protection for Israel from about 90 percent of all attempts to fire rockets at us, from Shihab missiles to Kassams," the defense minister said. "In the longer range, we will have, for many reasons, to achieve a much higher interception level.

The Iron Dome, a kinetic interception system designed to eliminate Kassam rockets, will be ready in a few years. The Iron Dome is just one of missile defense systems currently under development, along with the Arrow 2. When completed, the Iron Dome and the Arrow 2 missile defense layers will buttress the existing system which includes a series of Patriot missile batteries and Arrow missiles.

Israel is considering upgrading its current Patriot missile batteries to the PAC-3 model, and debating whether to deploy the Skyguard system, a version of what was once known as the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) missile defense which utilizes lasers to target short range missiles. (Article, Link) 

Israel Plans to Expand Defenses

July 23, 2007 :: Jane's Information Group :: News

Israel is preparing a new multi-layered missile defense system, reports the July 11 edition of Jane's Defence Weekly.  The current backbone of Israel's missile defense is the Arrow terminal defense system. The Arrow-2, an upgrade of the original Arrow with U.S. assistance, continues under development, as is a new Arrow-3, which would have the capability to intercept missiles at a higher altitude and distance, enabling several interception attempts in case of a miss.  In addition, the government may purchase the advanced PAC-3 theater missile defense system.  To defend against short-range and smaller rockets from Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel is working on the "Iron Cap" system—a kinetic energy, all-weather interceptor capable of engaging multiple threats with a cheap radio-frequency seeker inside its radome.  The Iron Cap could be deployed within 30 months and is also relatively cheap to produce at only one percent of the cost of a PAC-3 system. (Article, Link) 

Congress Boosts Funding For Arrow, SRBMD Programs

October 4, 2006 :: Jane's Information Group :: News

Congress voted to increase funding for two joint U.S.-Israeli ballistic missile defense programs on September 29, reports Jane’s Defence Weekly. The Arrow weapon system, jointly produced by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Boeing, received a $127 million budget for fiscal year 2007, $3 million more than last year’s funding and $40 million more than the Bush administration requested from Congress. Of the $127 million, $63 million is allocated for the production of the Arrow 2 interceptor, and $64 million for the development of the Arrow 2 Block 3 and Block 4 upgraded versions. The system consists of high-altitude interceptors that are capable of shooting down ballistic missiles in the stratosphere during their final descent phase. Currently deployed, Arrow is Israel’s primary defense against intermediate-range Iranian missiles that could carry nuclear warheads.
        In addition to its funding for Arrow, Congress approved $25 million for a feasibility study of a short-range ballistic missile defense (SRBMD) initiative currently being conducted by Israel’s Rafael Armament Development Authority and Raytheon. The two companies are designing a new interceptor, known as “Stunner” in the U.S. and “Kela David” in Israel. The program was initiated following the recent Lebanon war, during which Hezbollah fired over 4,000 short-range Katyusha rockets into northern Israel. Israel’s cost requirement was initially $100,000 per interceptor, although industry sources estimate the Stunner will cost around $300,000. The new SRBMD initiative is seeking to build a smaller, cheaper interceptor not exceeding $30,000, with a range of 40-200 km. Sources indicate, however, that the system will not be ready for deployment until 2011 at the earliest.
        The Stunner technology, Jane’s reports, is based on “next-generation Rafael Python dual-wave imaging infra-red air-to-air missile technology and advanced low-cost Raytheon tactical missile technology, combined with a radar being developed by Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Systems.”  (Article, Link) 

Israel Plans New Arrow, Mark 4

June 7, 2006 :: Defense News :: News

Israel plans to develop the Arrow Mark 4 upgrade for its Arrow anti-missile system in the wake of the growing threat from Iran, reports Defense News. According to the report, which cited Israeli defense sources, the Arrow Mark 4 will feature improved interceptor missiles, a new radar unit, and other components that will convert Arrow into an integrated nationwide ballistic missile defense system. The upgrade will be implemented by the Israel Aircraft Industries subsidiary Elta Group, the Israel Air Force, and the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The U.S. is financing two-thirds of the program, and Israel is financing the rest. (Article, Link) 

Israeli Arrow Interceptor Successfully Destroys Target

December 3, 2005 :: News

On Friday December 2, Israel conducted another intercept test of its Arrow ballistic missile defense system. A Black Sparrow target missile said to simulate an Iranian Shahab-3 missile was launched from an aircraft overflying the Mediterranean. Radar located the target and transmitted its trajectory data to the command and control center, which calculated plans for defending against it. These were transmitted to the launcher, which launched the test interceptor from a military base said to be south of Tel Aviv. The interceptor, by some accounts the newer, “Arrow-2” interceptor produced and recently delivered by Boeing, successfully destroyed the target. A brochure provided by Rafael, producer of the Black Sparrow target, claims that it is capable of reproducing various reentry patterns: simple ballistic, barrel roll, and other sorts of maneuvers (inset picture).
        The exercise marked the fourteenth test of the Arrow interceptor, and the ninth trial run for the current weapons system. Defense officials said the object of the test was to examine the system’s enhanced capabilities, including an expanded interception range, and to test the interface between the Arrow system and the Patriot missile system, which is supposed to become activated in the event that the Arrow does not destroy the target.
        Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz called the test “a tremendous achievement” that “once again underscores the principle that the State of Israel relies first and foremost on itself when it comes to safeguarding the citizens of Israel.” Aryeh Herzog, head of the Arrow project in the Defense Ministry, told Israel Channel Two TV, “The launch was successful. The significance is that the Arrow arms project proved another part of its range of operations against the Iranian threat.”
        Jane’s Defense Weekly reports that the test pushed the altitude boundaries of the Arrow beyond those of previous tests:

The interception was conducted at a record low altitude, considered below the AWS’s performance envelope, and determined the operability of the Arrow II Block 3 interceptor, manufactured jointly by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

“We have never before tried the Arrow against the Shahab characteristics, but we know now that we are capable of intercepting all existing ballistic missile threats in the region, whether conventional or non-conventional, and we are developing capabilities to deal with future threats,” Director of the Israel Missile Defence Organisation Arieh Herzog told JDW.

…Following the interception, IAF’s MIM-104 Patriot low- to high-altitude air-defence batteries joined the test, simulating an additional interception at lower altitude. Israel’s ballistic missile defence concept is based on a two-tier layered defence in which the AWS constitutes the higher layer and the Patriot an additional, lower layer.

        On August 26, 2004, the Arrow-2 failed to intercept a Shahab-3-type target (Black Sparrow) in a test. A few days earlier on July 29, 2004, the Arrow had successfully intercepted a Scud-type target. Both tests were conducted in California.
        A senior Israeli defense source was quoted as saying that Arrow system was preparing to provide a response to several missiles launched simultaneously at Israel, naming Iran and Syria as the primary threats being considered.
        Yair Ramati of the IAI’s MALAM defense plant was interviewed about the test on Voice of Israel radio in Jerusalem. Ramati said of the upgrades to the Arrow-2 upgrades,

The improvements do not lie in the hardware, but rather in new software installed in the radar, in the command and control systems and in the missile itself. It is a kind of a combination that has to be tested. Incidentally, this was the third time the software was tested.
 (Article, Link) 

First Arrow-2 Interceptor Delivered

November 7, 2005 :: Jane's Information Group :: News

Boeing delivered the first “Arrow 2” interceptor to the Israel Air Force on October 31, reports Jane’s Defense Weekly. The companies involved would not disclose the exact number of Arrow missiles scheduled for manufacture, but an Israel defense source is quoted as saying that there are weekly deliveries of “several missile components” from Boeing, and that Israel has two operational Arrow batteries, which each reportedly need 100 missiles. (Article, Link) 

Israel to Receive First U.S.-Produced Arrow Interceptors

June 15, 2005 :: Bloomberg :: News

The Israeli Air Force will receive the first Arrow missile interceptors made with U.S. parts this month, reports Bloomberg. Since 2000, Israel Aircraft Industries has worked with Boeing to co-produce missile canisters, motor housings, electronics, and radar caps. Arieh Herzog, director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, stated that the collaboration will allow Israel to double its original rate of production. The U.S. has helped fund the Arrow program since the late 1980s in order to protect Israel from missile attack. (Link) 

Israeli Arrow Test Fails

August 26, 2004 :: BBC :: News

Although a test of the Arrow-2 interceptor on July 29 resulted in the successful destruction of an actual Scud-B missile, another attempt today showed the Arrow unable to destroy a target made to simulate the more sophisticated Iranian Shahab-3.
        Chris Taylor, spokesman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency which is jointly developing the Arrow with Israel, commented that “The engineers don’t yet know what happened.”
        The test, the 13th Arrow intercept test and the eighth test of the complete weapon system, was against an air-launched target, dropped from a C-17 aircraft, made to simulate a missile similar to a threat Israel could face.
        The target was dropped 360 miles west-northwest of San Nicolas Island, after which its booster ignited. The arrow Green Pine radar picked up the target, and the Arrow interceptor was launched from San Nicolas.
        According to Israeli news sources, the test involved a missile with dual warheads, one actual and one “dummy,” and although the Arrow accurately discerned the actual warhead it failed to intercept it.  (More »»») 

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