The Jerusalem Post announced that the IDF was testing the latest version of the Arrow missile interceptor. The new upgraded Arrow 2 system tested was designed to respond to improvements in the missiles that Israeli enemies might launch, specifically to intercept potential Iranian nuclear warheads (even though trusted experts I’ve consulted say Iran doesn’t have any!).
This raises the question: why is Israel preparing a weapons system for a threat that doesn’t exist? Talk about provoking a Mideast arms race! Israel possesses WMD when no other nation in the region has them. It possesses anti-missile systems designed to protect against a weapon that doesn’t exist. Israel’s defenders may argue that in a dangerous neighborhood, anticipation of the military strategy of the enemy is critical. But there comes a point when such behavior becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Paranoia, much??
The Arrow is one several layers of missile-defense, the first one being Iron Dome, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets like those fired by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge.
The Post says that the Air Force will know within days about the success of the test. That’s not precisely true. The military knows the result, and according to my Israeli source, it failed. A Sparrow missile was fired at Israel and the Arrow was supposed to intercept it before it reached Israel. Instead the Arrow landed in the Mediterranean north of Israel according to this Russian media source:
The suspected target was suspected of landing some 300 kilometers to the north of Tel Aviv.
Yossi Melman confirms the test failure in this tweet:
It’s clear that today’s Arrow2 test, the Israel-US anti missile defense systen, failed. The aim was to see if extension of its 300+km works
— Yossi Melman (@yossi_melman) September 9, 2014
Contrast this to Israeli media like i24, which report the test was a success. Wishful thinking, but thinking that characterizes too much of poodle-like relationship between Israeli reporters and the security establishment.
One test failure doesn’t signify the non-viability of the entire Arrow program. But if there are more, it could signal serious problems.
This statement from the defense ministry seems designed to preempt any criticism that might emerge once it becomes known that the test failed:
“This test has no connection to the operational performance of the Arrow weapons system, which is operated by the Air Defense Command of the air force,” the statement said.
It’s hard to even parse the meaning of this statement. But it seems to say that despite the failed test Arrow remains a viable missile defense system. They might’ve added that since two countries, two militaries, and four defense contractors have billions invested in the system, that it has to remain viable, no matter how many failures there might be. Excuse that bit of cynicism. But one thing you learn when you’re exposing the presumptions of the national security state is that cynicism and irony are critical tools.