February 25, 2013 - 14:26 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Israel carried out a successful test of its upgraded Arrow interceptor system on Monday, Feb 25, which is designed to destroy in space the kind of missiles held by Syria and Iran, the Israeli Defense Ministry said, according to Reuters.
The U.S.-backed Arrow III system deploys "kamikaze" satellites that target ballistic missiles above the earth's atmosphere, hitting them high enough to allow for any non-conventional warheads to disintegrate safely.
Monday's test was the first live flight for the Arrow III, but did not involve the interception of any target.
"The test examined for the first time the capabilities and the performance of the new Arrow III, considered to be the most innovative and revolutionary interceptor in the world," the Defense Ministry said.
A ministry official said the test, which was conducted from a site along Israel's Mediterranean coast and lasted six and a half minutes, was "100 percent successful".
Designers say the system has proved a success in up to 90 percent of previous tests.
"The success of the test is an important milestone in the operational capabilities of the state of Israel to be able to defend itself against threats in the region," the ministry statement added.
But the ministry official said the timing of the test, which took months to prepare, was not related to current tensions with Iran or Syria. He said Israel plans another flight test followed by a simulated interception in space over the Mediterranean.
Arrow is the long-range segment in Israel's three-tier missile shield. This also includes the successfully deployed "Iron Dome", which targets short-range rockets and projectiles, and the mid-range "David's Sling", still under development. They can be deployed alongside other U.S. systems.
Officials say that if Arrow failed to hit an incoming missile at high altitude, there would still be time to destroy it with other systems before it hit its intended target.