September 03, 2012
Credit: Credit: Chameleons Eye/IAI Chameleons eye/newscom
David Fulghum Lod, Israel
Israel's military is ready to test a complete, long-range ballistic missile defense system to demonstrate that it can reach farther and higher to destroy improved enemy designs.
Moreover, the modifications to be demonstrated will allow additional improvements such as the ability to search more of the electromagnetic spectrum for elusive, high-speed missile threats being designed and tested by Iran. This first end-to-end test of Israel's Arrow anti-missile system—this time using the agile, new Arrow 3 interceptor—could occur during the next few weeks. Some officials say the launch is imminent if all goes to plan.
The initial operating capability for Arrow 3, the highest-altitude component of the system, is slated for 2016. Judged by many in the U.S. and Israel as today's best missile defense system, Arrow 3 will offer pathways to at least five other advanced capabilities.
“We are excited to see the first flight test of the whole system,” says Itzhak Kaya, Arrow program director for Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) MLM division. “We are still in the development phase and testing new capabilities to stay a step ahead of future threats in cooperation with Boeing and the [Pentagon's] Missile Defense Agency.”
Budgets will dictate how fast additional improvements will be added to the Arrow system, but one need remains immutable.
“We need to see farther, there's no doubt about it,” says Kaya. “It could be done with an unmanned air vehicle, for example, but you need a very big [platform].” There also are plans to expand surveillance by operating in additional segments of the electromagnetic spectrum, in particular the electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) frequencies. “We're also looking at an even more advanced Green Pine electronically scanned radar,” he says.
An interim radar upgrade for the Arrow system—the Super Green Pine—has already been tested. Its power, discrimination and range are well in excess of the standard Green Pine's 300-mi.-plus range and its ability to track more than 30 targets moving at speeds greater than 10,000 ft. per sec. In practice, an Arrow 3 battery is expected to intercept salvos of more than five missiles within 30 sec. Now an even more advanced upgrade of the Super Green Pine—jokingly referred to as the “Double Super Green Pine”—is under development.