Israel Stops Missile in Test
JERUSALEM (AP) _ In a successful test, an Israeli Arrow missile on Thursday intercepted and destroyed a missile launched off the Israeli coast, and the Arrow’s developers said the largely U.S.-funded weapons system is ready for use.
Although the Arrow has hit missiles in previous tests, this was the first time it had intercepted a small, high speed missile head-on.
The target missile was launched from an F-15 warplane, which makes it more difficult to track and intercept. The Arrow was launched from the ground.
``The Arrow was fired at the target in a stable, precise manner until it hit and destroyed the target,″ said Daniel Peretz, head of the Arrow program at Israeli Aircraft Industries.
Peretz said the Arrow is now operational. ``If one day, we will need it, the system is functioning,″ he told Israel radio.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak said the successful test strengthens ``the strategic deterrent capability of the state of Israel.″
The Arrow project dates to 1988, before Iraq demonstrated the need for it by pounding Israel with 39 Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War.
Although the Scuds carried only conventional warheads, they did extensive damage and demonstrated Israel’s vulnerability to nuclear missiles if launched from Iraq and Iran, both hostile to the Jewish state.
Both also are believed to be trying to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.
Development of the Arrow is expected to cost more than $2 billion, with more than half the funding coming from the United States.
Critics of the project argue that it is prohibitively expensive and that no anti-missile defense system can stop all of the enemy’s missiles.
They say the only effective defense against ballistic nuclear missiles is deterrence, meaning development of a second-strike capability, and they say that money should be spent in that area.
Israel’s Defense Ministry said seven out of eight Arrow tests have been successful.