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Israel successfully tests missile interception system as Iran tensions grow

Netanyahu says Arrow-3 can shield his country from any kind of missile threat and sends a message to Tehran
Israel says its missile defence systems can counter missiles 'from Iran or anywhere else' (AFP)

Israel has successfully conducted three tests on a system for intercepting missiles in space, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. 

Netanyahu said the tests conducted in Alaska proved the Arrow-3 missile shield, jointly developed with US company Boeing, could protect Israel from any kind of missile threat. 

"Today Israel has the ability to act against ballistic missiles that could be launched against us from Iran or anywhere else," he said. "All of our enemies should know that we will overcome them in both defence and offence."

Washington said last week that Iran appeared to have tested a medium-range ballistic missile that flew about 1,000 km. Tehran said such tests were for defensive needs.

Arrow-3's Alaska trials had been expected last year but were postponed, following earlier difficulties in testing the system.

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Its first full trial, scheduled in 2014, was aborted due to what designers said was a faulty flight by the target missile. Follow-up Israeli tests in late 2017 and early 2018 were also called off at short notice due to technical problems.

The system's success in Alaska was held up by both Israel and the United States as a sign of the strength of their alliance.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended Sunday's meeting of Netanyahu's cabinet, where he and the ministers watched a video of an Alaska missile interception.

Israel's defence ministry said that, as part of the Alaska tests, Arrow-3 was successfully synched up with the AN-TPY2 radar - also known as X-band - which provides the United States with extensive global coverage. Israel hosts an X-band battery.

"We are committed to assisting the government of Israel in upgrading its national missile defence capability to defend the state of Israel and deployed US forces from emerging threats," Vice Admiral John Hill, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency, said in a statement.

Arrow-3 and an earlier generation system, Arrow-2, serve as the top tier of an integrated Israeli shield built up with US backing to withstand various potential missile or rocket salvoes. The bottom tier is the short-range Iron Dome interceptor while David’s Sling shoots down mid-range missiles.

Also involved in Arrow's manufacturing are Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Elisra Company, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd..