Arrow 3

The Arrow 3 or Hetz 3 (Hebrew: חֵץ 3, pronounced [ˈχet͡s]) is an exoatmospheric hypersonic anti-ballistic missile, jointly funded, developed and produced by Israel and the United States. Undertaken by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Boeing, it is overseen by the Israeli Ministry of Defense's "Homa" (Hebrew: חומה, pronounced [χoma], "rampart") administration and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. It provides exo-atmospheric interception of ballistic missiles (during the space-flight portion of their trajectory), including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)[2][3] carrying nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads. With divert motor capability, its kill vehicle can switch directions dramatically, allowing it to pivot to see approaching satellites.[4] The missile may have a reported flight range of up to 2,400 km (1,500 mi).[5]

Arrow 3
TypeExoatmospheric Hypersonic Anti-ballistic missile
Place of originIsrael
Service history
Used byIsrael
Production history
DesignerIsrael Aerospace Industries
ManufacturerIsrael Aerospace Industries, Boeing

Inertial navigation system (INS) gimbaled seeker
Thrust vectoring
Rapid launch fortified underground silos

According to the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, Arrow 3 may serve as an anti-satellite weapon, which would make Israel one of the world's few countries capable of shooting down satellites.[4]


In August 2008 the Israeli and United States governments began development of an upper-tier component to the Israeli Air Defense Command, known as Arrow 3, "with a kill ratio of around 99 percent".[6] The development is based on an architecture definition study conducted in 2006–2007, determining the need for the upper-tier component to be integrated into Israel's ballistic missile defense system. According to Arieh Herzog, then Director of Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), the main element of this upper tier will be an exoatmospheric interceptor, to be jointly developed by IAI and Boeing.[7]

The design of Arrow 3 promises to be an extremely capable system, more advanced than what we have ever attempted in the U.S. with our programs. [...] This has to do with the seekers that have greater flexibility and other aspects, such as propulsion systems – it will be an extremely capable system.

Lieutenant General Patrick J. O'Reilly, Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, [7] (2009)

The new component will also require the integration of longer range detection, tracking and discrimination capability, beyond what the "Green Pine" and "Super Green Pine" radars employed with the Arrow 2 are providing. Among the advanced sensors considered for Israel's future multi-tier system, are airborne electro-optical sensors deployed on high flying unmanned aerial vehicles and future enhanced "Green Pine" radars, as well as the AN/TPY-2 radar already deployed in Israel, and operated by U.S. forces.[7][8]

The multibillion-dollar development program of the Arrow is undertaken in Israel with the financial support of the United States.

U.S. contributions to Arrow 3 program by fiscal year. Figures in millions of U.S. dollars.
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
20.0[9] 30.0[9] 50.036[9] 58.966[9] 66.220[9] 74.700[9] 74.707[9] 74.707[9] 89.550[9] 204.893[10]
2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027


IAI began preliminary tests of the Arrow 3 in 2011. The company will not specify what tests were performed, but they are part of the preparations for a full fly-out test.[11] On January 23, 2012 the Israeli Ministry of Defense released photographs and video of the recent successfully fly-out tests from Palmachim Airbase. During the tests, a model of the interceptor missile was launched in order to check the starting and propulsion system, as well as other tracking sensors.[12]

On January 23, 2012 IAI announced an agreement to jointly work on the Arrow 3 with Boeing.[13] Boeing is responsible for 40–50 percent of the production content of the Arrow 3. Expected work content includes motorcases, shroud, canister, safe & arm / ignition devices, power devices (batteries), and inertial navigation units, as well as several avionics packages and actuators & valves.[14]

On February 25, 2013 a fly-out test of the Arrow 3 was conducted from Palmachim Airbase. The launch tested the missile control and engines. According to a senior defense source, the missile obtained hypersonic speed, and reached an altitude of 100 km (62 mi), entering space. It followed various objects, such as stars, and gained further altitude. Its engine stopped after six minutes.[15]

On January 3, 2014 another successful test of the Arrow 3 was conducted from Palmachim Airbase. During the test the interceptor entered space and carried out a range of maneuvers in response to a virtual incoming enemy missile. The test involved the activation of two of the interceptor's engines, the first of which brought it into space, and the second allowing it to carry out complex maneuvers.[16]

In December 2014 a test aimed to debut an exo-atmospheric intercept capabilities of Arrow 3 has been characterized as a "no test", given that "conditions did not allow for" actual launch of the intercepting missile.[17][18]

On December 10, 2015 Arrow 3 scored its first intercept in a complex test designed to validate how the system can detect, identify, track and then discriminate real from decoy targets delivered into space by an improved Silver Sparrow target missile.[19] According to officials, the milestone test paves the way toward low-rate initial production of the Arrow 3.[19]

On February 19, 2018 Arrow 3 flight test took place in Israel. Another test took place on January 22, 2019.[20]

In a series of tests in July 2019 at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska, the Arrow 3 system successfully intercepted 3 "enemy" rockets, one of them outside the atmosphere. The tests demonstrated Arrow 3's ability to intercept exo-atmospheric targets.[21][22]


External images
Arrow 3 kill vehicle on display at the 2009 Paris Air Show
Computer-generated image of Arrow 3 kill vehicle in space

Israel Aerospace Industries announced in June 2009, that the Arrow 3 patented[23] exoatmospheric interception method includes a two-stage interceptor, like the Arrow 2, but purely based on hit-to-kill technology.[24] Unlike most kill vehicles, which use liquid or gas propulsion, the new Israeli kill vehicle will be propelled by an ordinary rocket motor equipped with a thrust-vectoring nozzle.[8] It will also be fitted with a gimbaled seeker for hemispheric coverage. By measuring the seeker's line-of-sight propagation relative to the vehicle's motion, the kill vehicle will use proportional navigation to divert its course and line up exactly with the target's flight path.[8] Joseph Hasson, chief missile designer at IAI, who patented the new kill vehicle with his colleague Galya Goldner, says that the concept is relatively simple, reliable and inexpensive, and is based on mature technologies. Furthermore, the kill vehicle's divert capability and agility reduce the need for detection and tracking systems, which usually accompany remote sensor-assisted exoatmospheric kills.[8] IAI displayed a full-sized model of the Arrow 3 missile and its kill vehicle at the June 2009 Paris Air Show.[25]

Arrow 3 should be able to intercept ballistic missiles, especially those carrying weapons of mass destruction,[26] at altitudes of over 100 km (62 mi),[27] and in greater ranges.[9] It could also be ship-based.[28] Arrow 3 is faster[9] than the Arrow 2 and slightly smaller,[8] weighing nearly half.[29]

An Arrow 3 battery is expected to intercept salvos of more than five ballistic missiles within 30 seconds. Arrow 3 can be launched into an area of space before it is known where the target missile is going. When the target and its course are identified, the Arrow interceptor is redirected using its thrust-vectoring nozzle to close the gap and conduct a "body-to-body" interception.[30]

Arrow 3 may have a reduced 30-year life-cycle cost.[25] It should use the same launch system as Arrow 2.[13] Reportedly it will cost $2–3 million per unit,[31] while program cost is estimated at some $700–$800 million over three years.[32]

According to numerous Israeli experts, including Prof. Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, former director of the Israeli Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure and currently the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, it is also possible that the Arrow 3 could serve as an anti-satellite weapon.[4]


Stark, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, was chosen to manufacture canisters for the Arrow 3, and made the first delivery in September 2018.[33]


According to Jane's Defence Weekly, a solicitation that outlines the expansion of an Israeli Air Force facility at Tal Shahar, roughly halfway between Jerusalem and Ashdod, near Beit Shemesh, indicates that almost certainly it will be used for four Arrow 3 launchers on sites cut into the surrounding hills. The estimated completion date would be around the end of 2014.[34] Each of the four launchers will have six missiles for a total of 24 interceptors.[34] The plans for the base were revealed in a routine United States Department of Defense contract solicitation.[35] Arrow 3 was declared operational on January 18, 2017.[36]

See also


  4. Opall-Rome, Barbara (2009-11-09). "Israeli experts: Arrow-3 could be adapted for anti-satellite role" (PDF). Imaginova 16. Retrieved 2011-11-09. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) See also full article: #1 (2010-03-04).
  5. Foss, Christopher; O’Halloran, James. "Jane's Information Group". Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defence 2012–13 (Arrow Weapon System): 692–695.
  6. "Israel profile: Missile overview: Missile Chronology" (PDF). Nuclear Threat Initiative. January 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  7. "Israel, U.S. to embark on collaborative 'upper-tier' missile intercept program to include Arrow 3 and land-based SM-3 missiles". Defense Update. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
  8. Eshel, David (2010-02-08). "Israel upgrades its antimissile plans". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  9. Sharp, Jeremy M. (2016-12-22). "CRS report for Congress: U.S. foreign aid to Israel" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  10. Sharp, Jeremy M. (2018-02-26). "CRS report for Congress: U.S. foreign aid to Israel" (PDF). Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  11. Egozi, Arie (2011-08-02). "Arrow-3: a totally different layer of protection". Retrieved 2011-08-04.
  12. "Defense Ministry conducts first test of "Arrow 3" system". Israel Defense Forces. 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  13. Ben David, Alon (2012-01-26). "Boeing links up with IAI on Arrow-3". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
  14. "Arrow II brochure" (PDF). Boeing. March 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
  15. Lappin, Yaakov (2013-02-25). "Israel successfully tests Arrow 3 missile defense". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  16. Lappin, Yaakov (2014-01-03). "Defense Ministry: Missile shield system passes 2nd flight test". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
  17. Opall-Rome, Barbara (2014-12-17). "'No Test' declared for Arrow-3 interceptor". Defense News. Retrieved 2014-12-19.
  18. Amouyal, Noa (2015-02-25). "Israel DM: glitch in Arrow 2 missile fixed". Defense News. Retrieved 2015-02-27.
  19. Opall-Rome, Barbara (2015-12-10). "US-Israel Arrow-3 intercepts target in space". Defense News. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
  20. "Israel touts successful test of Arrow-3 missile interceptor". Defense News. 2019-01-22. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  21. Judson, Jen (28 July 2019). "US, Israel's Arrow-3 missile put to the test in Alaska". Defense News. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  22. Ahronheim, Anna (29 July 2019). "Israel, U.S. carry out successful test of Arrow-3 missile over Alaska". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  23. WO 2006003660, Hasson, Joseph & Galia Goldner, "Exo atmospheric intercepting system and method", issued 2006-01-12.
  24. "IAI develops Arrow 3 interceptor in response to longer range threats". Israel Aerospace Industries. 2009-06-10. Archived from the original on 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
  25. Richardson, Doug (2009-07-09). "IAI exhibits full-size Arrow 3 at Paris". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 2009-08-19. See Arrow 2 and Arrow 3. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  26. "Arrow 3 brochure" (PDF). Israel Aerospace Industries. Retrieved 2012-03-25.
  27. Ben-Yishai, Ron (2008-07-08). "US to help Israel develop Arrow-3". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
  28. Greenberg, Hanan (2010-05-27). "Arrow 3: The new generation". Ynetnews. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  29. Opall-Rome, Barbara (2010-03-22). "Iran threat speeds Arrow-3 effort". Defense News. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  30. Fulghum, David (2012-09-03). "Higher-altitude Arrow design to show its potential". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  31. "Eyeing Iran, Israel slates missile shield for 2015". Ynetnews. Reuters. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
  32. "Israel asks U.S. to support Arrow-3". Defense Update. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
  33. "First Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile canister delivered to IAI". Defense World. 2018-09-07. Retrieved 2018-09-07.
  34. Binnie, Jeremy (2013). "Israeli BMD facility details revealed". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  35. Frenkel, Sheera (2013-06-03). "U.S. publishes details of missile base Israel wanted kept secret". The Miami Herald.
  36. "Israel deploys 'Star Wars' missile killer system". Reuters. 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
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