Israel Air Force Commander Major General Ido Nehushtan said earlier that the Arrow-3 system, the third layer of Israel’s missile defense shield, will be operational by 2014. The events of the recent days might cause the general to reconsider his statement.
Over the course of the last week, three attempts were made to conduct an intercept test of a mock Iranian Shahab missile with the Arrow-2 anti-missile system off the coast of California. On all three occasions the tests were aborted because of various malfunctions, Israeli defense officials said. The latest attempt was made yesterday, on July 23, but the test was called off after the launch attempt was hit by last-minute technical problems. A target had been released from a C-17 plane but communication glitches between the missile and the radar led U.S. defense officials to abort the test before an intercepting missile could be fired.
Naturally, officials try to play the failure down: malfunctions of systems still in their experimental stage were to be expected.
Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired general and weapons expert, said the interceptor wasn't fired because it is too expensive to use in a test that isn't expected to go according to plan. He said such glitches are common when developing new systems and he did not consider it a significant setback.As a consequence of this failure, further tests of the system, planned for today and Monday, have also been postponed.
The Arrow project was spurred largely by the failure of the U.S. military's Patriot missiles to intercept Iraqi Scud rockets that struck Israel in the 1991 Gulf War. The program is half-funded by the United States.