The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) has conducted a successful flight test of the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea.
Carried out in collaboration with officials from the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the launch represents the second flyout test of the interceptor, and did not involve interception of a dummy missile.
The test firing also marks a significant milestone in Arrow-3's development, and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the emerging ballistic missile threat.
An unnamed senior defence source was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying the interceptor obtained hypersonic speed following launch, and reached an altitude of 100km entering space.
"It followed various objects, such as stars, and gained further altitude. Its engine stopped after six minutes," the source said.
Commenting on the test launch, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said: "This is an important milestone for the state of Israel's multi-layered defence system, which includes Iron Dome, David's Sling, Arrow 2 and Arrow 3."
An upgraded variant of the Arrow 2 defence system, the Arrow 3 is designed to intercept long-range missiles, including intermediate-range ballistic missiles at altitudes of over 100km, as well as those equipped with non-conventional warheads.
Equipped with an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Boeing-developed exoatmospheric interceptor based on hit-to-kill technology, the system is propelled by an ordinary rocket motor equipped with a thrust-vectoring nozzle, as opposed to most kill vehicles, which use liquid or gas propulsion.
The two-stage, hit-to-kill missile is expected to add interception opportunities to the joint US-Israel Arrow weapon system, while enhancing the active defense architecture of Israel against missile threats.
Arrow 3 is scheduled to become operational in 2016.
Image: the Arrow-3 interceptor lifts off during its second successful flyout test fom an Israeli test range. Photo: courtesy of Missile Defense Agency.