Israel Upgrades Its Antimissile Plans

The U.S. and Israel have started development of an upper-stage component to Israelís Arrow-3 missile defense architecture. Arieh Herzog, director of Israelís missile defense program, says the main element will be a highly maneuverable exoatmospheric interceptor that zeros in on an incoming missile.

The decision to add the component, which will be jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Boeing, stems from a study conducted in 2006‑07 that identified a need for it in Israelís ballistic missile defense system.

Meanwhile, given the urgent need to meet the growing ballistic missile threat from Iran, IAI is pressing ahead with the Arrow-3 antiballistic missile, the development of which is being funded partly by the U.S. IAI displayed a full-sized model of the two-stage Arrow-3 at the Paris air show last year.

It is slightly smaller than the Arrow-2 missile in service, but is designed to engage and intercept clusters of hostile missiles at higher altitudes in the upper atmosphere. Uri Sinai, general manager of IAIís missile division, says the Arrow-3 will be the worldís first multi*tiered, unified antimissile system, providing Israelís Homa national missile-defense strategy with an effective exoatmospheric kill vehicle (KV).

Joseph Hasson, chief missile designer at IAIís MLM systems integration division, presented the concept at a conference last year. The presentation suggested a revolution in exoatmospheric KV design, in which existing technologies will be used to achieve a high level of simplicity and effectiveness that has not been possible in similar weapons. Hasson and MLM colleague Galya Goldner have, in fact, patented the new KV.

The KV developed by the IAI team has an exceptionally broad divert capability. This means the kill vehicle will be able to maneuver in space and close in on a target at high speed, thus yielding a high probability of a kill. Unlike most KVs, which use liquid or gas propulsion, the Israeli KV will be propelled by an ordinary rocket motor equipped with a thrust-vectoring nozzle.