18 March 2003


by IDF Spokesperson

Against the rising threat to Theater Ballistic Missiles (TBMs), carrying various types of warheads, Israel Aircraft Industries' MLM Division with its partners developed an effective, powerful and modular defense system. Utilizing the uniquely effective ARROW II interceptor, the system detects, intercepts and destroys incoming TBMs and provides a large defended footprint, allowing the protection of important strategic assets, as well as civilian population centers.

How did the Arrow Missile Program Develop?

The story of the Arrow Weapons System (AWS) began on March 23rd 1983 when US president Reagan delivered his "Star Wars" speech presenting to the world his vision of a defensive wall that would give the citizens of the free world a defense against Ballistic Missiles.

In 1984 the US Defense Department created a body called the SDIO. The SDIO's job was to administrate the Star Wars activity.

In 1985, the US offered Israel to join the initiative.

In 1986 an understanding was signed between the governments of Israel and the US which defined the principles of development that were to come. During the discussions that took place, it was decided that the Arrow system suited Israeli defense needs. The project was unveiled in 1988. In addition, it was decided that the US would fund 80% of the project.

Dov Raviv head of the Israel Aircraft Industries MLM Divisionand the father of the Arrow Missile program supervised the development with creativity and leadership. He ensured that the technology that went into the arrow was State of the Art.

The Arrow had a shaky start and early faults in the system were common. Despite this, it was possible within two years to overcome the problems and test launch the first ever Arrow missile in August 1990. The missile crashed during take off. There were many people who thought the project unnecessary and wasteful, but their doubts about the Arrow disappeared in 1991 during the Gulf War when they discovered that the threat of missiles was no myth, but harsh reality. In the next two tests, errors were discovered in the planning of the thermal defense system characterizing hypersonic missiles which had lead to all previous failures of the system. In September 1992 a successful Arrow missile test was carried out in which one arrow missile was deployed, and in 1993 two tests were carried out with almost total success.

In the summer of 1994 field photographers filmed a historic test launch in which an arrow missile destroyed its target for the first time. This proved that the original concept was working.

Due to several successful tests, the original Arrow missile completed its task as a technological breakthrough. Later, it was to be used as a target missile only. In the series of tests that followed, the capability of the arrow was increased to become a hypersonic missile, proving Israel's technological capabilities. This was a maximal result achieved in minimal time.

The new model dubbed "Arrow 2" had two stages and a wider range. It was capable of reaching heights above those of the earth's atmosphere, and could be launched from a portable launcher with short response time. In addition it had several other special features which showed how technologically advanced it was.

Between 1995-2000 ten test launches of the arrow missile were carried out which included the launch of a missile (flyout).

A number of tests were performed to examine the system: Nine out of 10 of these tests were successful. Soldiers in the Arrow missile unit carried out the last tests. The last test, which took place on The 5th of Jan 2003, was especially rewarding because the missile was launched under special flight conditions. The test examined how the Arrow could intercept 4 missiles simultaneously, as well as a simulation of a barrage of enemy missiles.

The chain of successful tests was extraordinary. They cannot assure 100% success, however they go a long way to add a feeling of security and belief in the Arrow missile system.

In the end of 1997 the IAF announced that it had created a special team which would be in charge of the first Arrow missile battery. In November 1998 a rollout ceremony took place in which the head of Israel's Aircraft Industry handed over the Arrow missile System to the Defense ministry.

In September 2000 the arrow system radar identified a scud launching facility in Syria, and in 2001 it discovered another.

The Arrow missile became operational in October 2000. In January 2000 The Israel Air Force industry and Boeing signed a deal in which it was agreed that they would both help to manufacture the arrow. During 2002 the framework for the Arrow missile 2 was laid down.

Today many countries possess ballistic missiles, and many of these countries either possess or are seeking to develop unconventional weapons. This condition, coupled with the unpredictability of potential adversaries, presents a serious threat to population centers, and high value assets. ARROW Weapon System is the first operational ATBM system in the world being developed specifically to defend against Theater Ballistic Missiles.

For more information on the Arrow: http://www.mod.gov.il/modh1/homa

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