While the 90s saw a time of relative peace, with the Iraq war and the escalate tensions with Iran, Israel is staying alert and preparing for any kind of assault. The Israeli Air Force just wrapped up the 17th test of its new missile defense system and is confident that it can now shoot down any ballistic nuclear missiles that Iran or others could shoot at it.
The Palmahim Base launched an Arrow interceptor at a Blue Sparrow Missile, fired from an F-15 fighter jet. The missile was designed to mimic an Iranian Shihab 3 missile, the kind of missile that Israel expects Iran to potentially use as a nuclear weapon delivery platform. The Blue Sparrow has a split warhead and advanced radar-evading capabilities. While the Shihab 3 ballistic missile currently lacks these capabilities, it is believed that Iran is working to develop them. The test was jointly conducted by the IAF and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
An integral part of the new missile defense system is its new Green Pine radar system. This highly accurate radar system was deployed to the Negev Desert in 2008.
Brig.-Gen. Daniel Milo, commander of the IAF's Air Defense Division said that the test's success, despite poor visibility, was a testament to the readiness of the country's missile defense program. He states, "The Arrow technology is always improving, and we cannot forget that the enemy is also advancing with its capabilities."
It is unclear how well the system will work against Iran's latest missile, though -- the Sajjil. The Sajjil is Iran's first solid fuel rocket. Solid fuel allows the rocket to have a much greater accuracy than the previous liquid designs. The missile has a range of 2,000 km. Iran also has a stockpile of several BM25 intercontinental missiles which it purchased four or more years ago from North Korea.
The Arrow is also exceptionally effective against the Syrian Scud D, which is capable of delivering traditional and nontraditional payloads to anywhere in Israel. Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the test "another achievement for Israel on its way to obtaining a multi-level missile defense system, starting with the Iron Dome to defend against short-range rockets, and to the Arrow."
The Israel missile defense system helps provide valuable test data to help the U.S. develop and improve its own missile shield. The U.S., like Israel, claims its missile defense shield to be active and ready to destroy any nuclear threat.