Haaretz Correspondent and AP
July 27, 2004
Israel and the
United States are set to conduct a crucial test on a jointly developed
anti-ballistic missile system, with the results of the test possibly
determining the system's future.
A battery of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system has been shipped to a U.S. naval base and will attempt to shoot down a Scud missile launched from the Pacific Ocean. The point of impact would be at an altitude of several dozen kilometers.
Israel and the U.S. decided to carry out the experiment some two years ago. The U.S. has specially purchased a Scud missile for the purpose of the test.
Military officials said the results of the test would likely determine if deployment of the system could be expanded, or if new funds would be required to continue development.
Developed jointly by Israel Aircraft Industries and Chicago-based Boeing Co. at a cost of more than $1 billion, the Arrow is one of the few systems capable of intercepting and destroying missiles at high altitudes. Its development followed the 1991 Gulf war, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel.
This test marks the first time that an Arrow will attempt to shoot down an actual Scud missile. Previous tests have involved computer simulations and the targeting of smaller, Scud-like projectiles.
Since most of the tests were successful, defense establishment sources say that the system provides a suitable response for surface-to-surface missiles that may be fired at Israel by enemy states.
In the last test, in December 2003, the Arrow successfully destroyed a Black Arrow missile, developed by Raphael (Israel Armament Development Authority).