Facing a relentless attack on its air defenses, Israel uses a never-before-seen weapon to stop a missile

Israel announces first Arrow-3 operational intercept
Israel announces first Arrow-3 operational intercept

On Thursday, Houthi rebels, a group supported by Iran in Yemen, said they launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at Israel, which claimed on Telegram that it thwarted the attack. It said it detected and intercepted one missile heading toward its airspace above the Red Sea with the Arrow system.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) later confirmed that it employed the Arrow-3 system to “successfully” eliminate the threat, marking the first operational intercept for the weapon since it was deployed in 2017. Arrow-3 is the result of a joint development project with the US and is a supplementary and improved system to the Arrow-2 unit, which was deployed in 2000. Arrow-2 has been used twice since the Israel-Hamas conflict started more than a month ago and is credited with intercepting a Houthi ballistic missile and a long-range rocket launched from the Gaza Strip — marking the older system’s first and second operational intercepts.

Both of the Arrow systems use two-stage solid-fueled interceptors to engage short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and comprise a launcher, radar, and battle management system. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank, Arrow-2 is designed to intercept targets in the upper atmosphere while Arrow-3 can destroy threats in space.

Together, they form the highest layer of Israel’s multi-layered air-defense network, which aims to safeguard Israel’s nearly 9,000 square miles of territory from missiles, rockets, artillery, and drones.

Israel, US test-fire Arrow 3 missile, declare trial a success
Israel, US test-fire Arrow 3 missile, declare trial a success

Israel’s defense ministry boasts that the Arrow-3 interceptor is a “world-class missile” that can enhance the country’s defense capacity by working with Arrow-2, the top layer of Israel’s defense array. The fact sheet on the system says that the Arrow-3 system can engage ballistic missiles more precisely at longer range and higher altitude (exo-atmospheric).

The middle layer of the defense array is David’s Sling, which can intercept medium- to long-range rockets and missiles up to 185 miles.

The Iron Dome, the most famous and active of the air-defense system, is the bottom layer. It can intercept short-range rockets and artillery fire. Israel also has the MIM-104 Patriot missile defense battery, a valuable US-made surface-to-air missile system that can counter everything from ballistic and cruise missiles to drones and loitering munitions.

Israel’s air-defense network is facing a challenge from missiles and rockets coming from different directions. Hezbollah militants are firing from Lebanon in the north, Houthi militants are firing from Yemen in the south, and Hamas militants are firing from Gaza in the west. The IDF said that about 9,500 projectiles have been fired at Israel since October 7. Some of them have been intercepted, some of them have failed, and some of them have penetrated.

The IDF said on Thursday: “All the aerial defense systems are working simultaneously for the first time. All of these provide protection in every layer of aerial defense and enable optimal protection of the Israeli home front.”

After using Arrow-2 for the first time in late October, Israeli forces moved several missile-launching ships to the Red Sea to strengthen its defenses against the growing threats from the Houthis in Yemen. It is unclear if the military has taken any new defensive actions after the Arrow-3 interception on Thursday.

US officials said that the Iran-backed group shot down a US MQ-9 Reaper drone near the coast of Yemen on Wednesday. This is the second time in recent years that the militant group has done this. US forces have previously intercepted missiles and drones that were thought to be heading toward Israel.

Israel used a weapon it never has before to stop a missile as its enemies put every layer of its air
Video Source: catty news