U.S. and Israeli officials say tests in Alaska of a jointly developed missile defense system have been successful.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday the Arrow-3 shield tests give his country the ability to act against ballistic missiles fired from Iran and from any other location.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency called the Arrow 3’s interception abilities a “major milestone.”
“The performance was perfect – every hit a bull’s eye,” Netanyahu said. “All our foes should know that we can best them, both defensively and offensively.”
Israel developed the Arrow 3, its most advanced system for intercepting long-range missiles, with U.S. aircraft maker Boeing and first deployed it in 2017. Arrow-3 interceptors are designed to hit long-range missiles in space at an altitude that would safely destroy any nuclear warheads.
Israel has conducted a series of Arrow 3 tests over its Mediterranean coastal waters since last year.
Israeli and U.S. missile defense agencies had planned to conduct a first Arrow 3 test over Alaska in the middle of 2018, but postponed it, saying they needed to improve the system’s readiness.
In 2017, then-U.S. Missile Defense Agency director Navy Vice Admiral James Syring told a congressional hearing that due to significant range constraints in the Mediterranean, “one of the better places to test [Arrow 3] is in Alaska, from Kodiak (Island).” Launching an Arrow 3 interceptor from Kodiak would enable it to fly over the more expansive waters of the Pacific.
In recent years, Iran has repeatedly conducted tests of long-range missiles that Israel and the United States say are capable of carrying nuclear warheads and reaching Israeli territory. Iran insists its missiles are defensive and its nuclear program is peaceful.
Israel also has expressed concern about what it says are long-running Iranian deliveries of rockets and other weapons to militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, both sworn to Israel’s destruction.
Arrow 3 is part of a multi-tiered Israeli missile defense network that also includes Iron Dome for intercepting short-range rockets and David’s Sling for hitting medium-range missiles.