The US and Israel have begun working on their next-gen air defense system, ‘Arrow-4’, which would reportedly have “unprecedented interception capabilities”. The weapon would eventually replace the Arrow-2 and MIM-104 Patriot systems currently in service.
Jacob Galifat, Israel Aerospace Industry’s general manager, said in a statement, “The Arrow weapon system, which was one of the first in the world to intercept ballistic missiles, will be upgraded with a significant capability, produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, in the form of the Arrow-4 interceptor. The interceptor will be the most advanced of its kind in the world and will provide a new layer of defense to the State of Israel and its citizens.”
According to the joint development terms, the state-owned IAI is the prime contractor for the Arrow missile program while Boeing is stated to be working from the American side.
Vice Admiral Jon Hill, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, said that the Arrow 4 shows the American commitment to Israel in strengthening its national defense systems against ballistic missile threats, reported The Times of Israel.
The Arrow is a family of anti-ballistic missiles designed to fulfill an Israeli requirement for a missile defense system that would be more effective against ballistic missiles than the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile.
Jointly funded and produced by Israel and the United States, the development of the system began in 1986 and has continued since, drawing some contested criticism.
The Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency have begun the development of the Arrow-4 system, with @ILAerospaceIAI as the prime contractor for development and production 1/2 pic.twitter.com/emLWMjlmI7
— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) February 18, 2021
The state of Israel has always been one of the few countries to have developed the most potent and effective air defense systems globally, in view of the continuous and constant threats from its Arab neighbors and nearby Palestine.
In order to protect itself from daily missile and rocket artillery attacks, the Israeli companies have developed the most combat-proven and effective air defense system, called ‘Iron Dome’.
Israel intends to arm itself with a multi-layered BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) shield, which includes Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Barak-8, Iron Dome, and laser-based Iron Beam.
A similar project to the Arrow series, named ‘David’s Sling’ is also being jointly developed by the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon, designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 km (24.85 miles) to 300 km (186.41 miles).
While both the Arrow-4 and David’s Sling are meant to replace the existing MIM-104 Patriot batteries in service, the latter is in a more advanced development stage, while work on Arrow-4 has just begun.
According to Dov Raviv, known as “the father of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile”, a single Arrow interceptor (in-service versions) has a 90 percent probability of destroying a target missile at the highest altitude possible.
In case of failure, two more interceptors can be launched towards the target at short time intervals.
If the first one destroys the target, the second can be directed to another target. Using this technique, three independent interception possibilities are provided which raise the interception probability from 90 percent to 99.9 percent, thus satisfying the leakage rate requirement.
The Arrow also has the capability to simultaneously intercept a salvo of more than five incoming missiles, with the target missiles arriving within a 30-second span. Such capability is currently possessed only by the US and Russia. According to Raviv, the Arrow can even discriminate between a warhead and a decoy.