By Kevin Flower
Israel declared a Friday test of its Arrow weapon system a "major milestone" in the development of a system to defend against medium range missiles that could be fired from countries like Iran.
In a statement the Israeli Defense Ministry said the test "provides confidence in operational Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat."
The successful test of the joint American and Israeli weapon system was held over the Mediterranean Sea Friday morning and sought to track a simulated incoming ballistic missile via radar and pass the information back to what is known as the battle management controller.
The Defense Ministry described the test as a "target-only tracking exercise," meaning the missile was not intercepted. The ministry said the test demonstrated that the Arrow Weapon System and the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System could successfully work together in what it termed "interoperability." U.S. Missile Defense Agency personnel participated in the test, the ministry said.
The missile defense test comes amid fevered speculation that Israel may soon launch a unilateral attack against Iran's nuclear program, though Israeli defense officials said the timing of Friday's exercise were planned a year in advance and was not connected to recent events.
Both countries were supposed to hold a massive joint missile defense exercise in April, but the drills were postponed until the second half of the year with both sides citing technical reasons.
Israel and the United States have been jointly developing the multi-billion dollar Arrow missile defense system since 1986. The goal of the project is to provide Israel with a defense for medium range missiles fired toward it from the region.