WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- Israel, concerned about both homemade Qassam rockets launched from Palestinian territory as well as the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles, has field-tested its Arrow 3 interceptor, its new anti-ballistic, long-range air defense system.
The Arrow 3 interceptor shot down a mock enemy ballistic missile in a trial flight, Global Security Newswire reported.
The United States has underwritten a large part of the Arrow 3's development costs. The system is to be deployed in 2015, Arrow 3's program head Yoav Turgeman said, and is intended to provide the topmost level of protection in a planned framework for countering various rocket and missile threats to Israel from any direction.
The Arrow 3's predecessor, the Arrow 2 missile, over the past decade have been deployed in multiple defense units under the operational command of the Israeli air force at a military facility north of Tel Aviv.
The new Arrow 3 system is due to participate in a joint U.S.-Israeli exercise scheduled for January. The "Juniper Cobra" exercise is intended to incorporate every element of Israel's missile and air defenses -- the Arrow 2 and 3 systems, Iron Dome, Magic Wand (also known as "David's Sling") and U.S. Patriot anti-missile batteries, as well a U.S. missile defense warship stationed offshore in the Mediterranean.
Iran factored high in Israel's decision to develop the Arrow 3 system as an answer to threats of aerial assaults, including recent declarations by Iran that it had missiles that could hit Israel.
Last month, Iranian air force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh declared: "If the Zionist entity wants to attack us, we will strike at the heart of Tel Aviv before their planes even leave our airspace. We have planned and conducted calculations and we have reached the conclusion that we do not need a range of more than 2,000 kilometers, because Israel is no further than this from our borders."
U.S. Army Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, Israel's multi-layered missile defense system is the only one in existence that can stop rockets and missiles of a variety of ranges and sizes.
A year ago U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew J. Shapiro said: "Given the threat Israel faces from short- and medium-range missiles, Israel air and missile defense systems are an area of particular focus (between the U.S. and Israel), including the Arrow Weapon System to counter long-range ballistic missile threats, and David's Sling to defend against short-range ballistic missiles. For our part, we are working with Israel to upgrade its Patriot Air and Missile Defense System."
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