Arrow-3 Triumph: Israel’s Hetz-3 Shines in First Aerial Target Intercept Over the Red Sea

'Arrow-3' Intercepts Real Aerial Threat for the first time.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The Israeli Army has announced that its anti-missile system, “Arrow-3,” also known as “Hetz-3” in Hebrew, was used for the first time to successfully intercept an aerial target in the sky above the Red Sea.

The information available indicates that on the evening of November 9th, a target that was headed towards Israel was successfully disrupted before it could reach its destination. This represents the first operational interception by the ‘Arrow-3’ system since it was deployed for active service in 2017, the statement reads. This achievement follows the recent success of the first operational interception carried out by the “Arrow-2” system last week, noted the statement. 

The army press office earlier reported many interceptions in the Red Sea region employing the “Arrow” systems. However, they did not indicate which modification was engaged in these interceptions. The statement also does not include any information regarding the precise location of the interception in the airspace.

The Army emphasises that the “Arrow-3” is one of the world’s most advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, built for intercepting exoatmospheric ballistic missiles.

Within Israel’s multi-layered missile defence system, the “Arrow 3” system sits atop the hierarchy as the most advanced level. It is asserted that it is possible to stop ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere at heights of up to 100 kilometres and distances of up to 2,400 kilometres.

The missile defence system, “Arrow-2”, is positioned on a lower level. It is also intended to intercept ballistic missiles but possesses less impressive technical qualities regarding speed, range, and altitude.

The “Iron Dome” and “David’s Sling” systems, designed to intercept missiles ranging from short to medium range, provide the first two tiers of protection for Israel’s anti-missile defences. In most cases, the “Iron Dome” system is used to defend against short-range missiles fired from the Gaza sector.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence announced in February 2013 that the new Arrow-3 missile interception system had passed its tests successfully. This system is intended to detect, intercept, and destroy ballistic missiles while they are in the stratosphere.

Arrow-3 Interceptor

Arrow-3, like its precious version, was designed by experts from the Israeli aerospace sector with collaboration from the American Boeing Corporation and the United States Missile Defence Agency. The complex comprises the Super Green Pine radar, the Golden Citron (Citron Tree) combat operational system, and the Hazelnut Tree missile launch control centre. 

Representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Defence have stated that the new system would be capable of destroying enemy missiles in orbit, and as a result, the missiles’ warheads will be rendered harmless, regardless of whether they contain nuclear or chemical weapons.

The ministry’s representative detailed the procedures used in the test. Launching an interceptor missile fully equipped with its weapons was a first. He stated that it went into space following the prescribed path in the test plan.  

In Alaska in July 2019, covert testing of the Arrow-3 was carried out. The Israeli military carried them out in conjunction with the United States Army. On Twitter (now X), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the test had been successful. He said the tests successfully hit their targets outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

According to spokesmen of the Israeli Ministry of Defence, Alaska was selected as a testing site for the anti-missile system for several reasons; in particular, the interaction of the complex with American missile detection systems was tested during the launches in Alaska.

The announcement of the test in Alaska came after Iran conducted a test a week earlier using a Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile. 

Germany is the first export customer for the Arrow-3 interceptor.

Arrow-2 Interceptor

Israel said in August 2012 that it had upgraded the Arrow-2 missile defence system to safeguard the country from any potential assault from Iran or Syria. This was the block 5 of the Arrow-2 system. It was instrumental in consolidating the lower-tier Arrow 2 and exoatmospheric Arrow 3 systems into a unified national missile defence system.

According to Associated Press sources, Arrow-2 has been outfitted with a new radar, upgraded sensors, and a reworked command and control system. According to Haaretz, which cites its sources, the upgraded version of the Arrow-2 can shoot down missiles and projectiles with a range of up to 300 kilometres. In particular, the complex will have the ability to shoot down M600 missiles, which are employed by Syria as well as the extremist Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

Arrow-4 Interceptor

Developers from the industry and the Israeli Ministry of Defence have initiated preliminary efforts to create the Arrow 4, a new missile-intercepting system designed to defend against far more sophisticated future threats. In 2017, IAI executive vice president Boaz Levy stated that it was likely premature to refer to the endeavour as Arrow 4. However, he conceded that current design investigations are focused on developing a future interceptor with capabilities surpassing those of Arrow 2 and Arrow 3.

Israel disclosed at the beginning of 2021 that the Arrow 4 interceptor was under development and that its primary objective was to intercept hypersonic threats, including hypersonic cruise missiles and gliding vehicles. As a result of Iran’s November 2022 announcement that it had tested a hypersonic missile, albeit with disputed veracity, efforts to counter hypersonic threats assumed a greater sense of urgency; a missile launched from Iran with those characteristics could strike Israel within four minutes.


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