Arrow II fails takeoff in Pacific test – setback for Israel’s missile race with Iran
debkafile‘s military sources report a serious setback in Israel’s defenses against Iranian ballistic missiles. Thursday, July 23, the newly upgraded Arrow II missile defense system, poised for its first long-range test at the US Pacific range off the central California coast, could not be launched because of “interceptor problems.”
This left Israel’s key defense system, designed to intercept long-range Iranian or Syrian missiles 1,000 kilometers from their launch point, unproven.
The Israeli defense establishment said the problems preventing the launch came from “malfunctions in the communications system.”
The Pentagon statement puts it differently: In a test involving three US missile interceptors [Patriot, Thaad and Aegis], Arrow tracked a target missile dropped from a C-17 [Boeing Globemaster III] aircraft. The Israeli system also exchanged data on the target in real time with elements of the US missile defense system.
“Not all test conditions to launch the Arrow Interceptor were met and it was not launched,” the Pentagon said. Other objectives were achieved and the results are being analyzed.
Military sources told debkafile that Israel without the Arrow system – unless proven otherwise – is partly exposed to attack from Iran’s Shehab 3 and Sejil-2 ballistic missiles, especially the latter which are more accurate and powered by solid fuel for instantaneous launching from deep inside Iran.
The failure of the Arrow test will be a morale booster for Iran’s Islamic rulers at a critical moment for their regime. It will also shadow the important high-level talks American officials, defense secretary Robert Gates and national security adviser James Jones, are to hold in Israel next week.
The missile test was supposed to be conducted over the weekend but was cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather. The test was then postponed to Monday night but again cancelled.
At least six months are required for preparing the complicated Arrow anti-missile missile system for testing. The Pentagon and Israeli statements did not cite a new date for a Pacific test.