Arrow is the long-range segment in Israel’s three-tier missile shield. This also includes the successfully deployed “Iron Dome”, which targets short-range rockets and projectiles, and the mid-range “David’s Sling”, still under development. They can be deployed alongside other U.S. systems.
Officials say that if Arrow failed to hit an incoming missile at high altitude, there would still be time to destroy it with other systems before it hit its intended target.
The Pentagon and the U.S. firm Boeing are partners in Arrow. Washington has described its support for Israeli missile interceptors as a means of reassuring Israel, which in the past has launched preventative wars against perceived threats, that it has a more passive means of defending itself.
Israel has accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons and has hinted it might strike the Islamic Republic in an effort to halt its atomic programme.
Boeing thinks that potential clients for the system may include India, Singapore and South Korea.
“As we prove out that technology, and show that it’s not only affordable but effective, we think there will be additional global market opportunities for that capability,” Dennis Muilenburg, chief executive of Boeing’s defence, space and security arm, told Reuters last year.
The United States and Israel have been developing Arrow jointly since 1988. Boeing’s counterpart on the project is state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries.