Washington, July 27 -- Israel this week successfully tested its new anti-ballistic, long-range air defense system, the Arrow 3, adding a new quiver in its multi-tiered arsenal to fend off air attacks.
The Arrow 3, which has been years in the works, intercepts long-range missiles while they are still in the atmosphere. The system was created as an answer to threats of air assaults, including recent declarations by Iran that it had missiles that could hit Israel.
Just last month, Iranian Air Force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh declared, "If the Zionist entity wants to attack us, we will strike at the heart of Tel Aviv before their planes even leave our airspace. We have planned and conducted calculations and we have reached the conclusion that we do not need a range of more than 2,000 kilometers, because Israel is no further than this from our borders.
The Iranian official also said Iran was capable of striking U.S. interests: "There are 50 American bases surrounding Iran, no more than 200 to 300 km away. If the Americans want to carry out evil deeds against us - well, they have brought 150,000 soldiers over, and they have dozens of bases. We can bomb all these targets, including the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf. This will happen if the U.S. wants to carry out a criminal operation against us, and the same goes for Israel."
Israel's other missile defense systems, Iron Dome and Magic Wand, are designed to intercept shorter-range missiles. Magic Wand, also known as David's Sling, "successfully deals with threats that no other system in the world is capable of neutralizing," said Pini Yungman, whose company, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is helping to develop the technology. Magic Wand can intercept mid-range missiles and is expected to be deployed in 2012.
Iron Dome, developed to stop short-range rockets and artillery shells, has already been a success. It was deployed in April and intercepted eight rockets fired from Gaza. Israel Air Force (IAF) officials said the system averted the need for another incursion into the Palestinian area as in 2008.
Said Col. Shachar Shochat, head of the active defense section of the IAF's aerial defense division, "The batteries' operational functioning gave the decision makers a degree of freedom, in that launching an offensive wasn't essential. The enemy failed to achieve his objective, got frustrated and eventually stopped shooting. The escalation was contained through the defense system. We reduced injury to human life, in part by not having to go for a deep ground incursion."
Israel developed the rocket and missile interception systems to address constant threats from regional enemies including Iran-backed terrorists in Gaza, who have fired 352 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israel since the beginning of 2011.