Not only a great technological breakthrough, but a critical component in Israel’s defense.

The Start-Up nation that has become a technological powerhouse has once again displayed its inventive capacity to provide protection for the people of Israel. Earlier last month, in Alaska’s air space, Israel successfully tested the Arrow 3 interceptor, its latest anti-ballistic missile-missile. The testing of the Arrow 3 system in Alaska proved that it is able to intercept and destroy an incoming ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead in the outer atmosphere before it dangerously splits and flies toward its target. The test, conducted at the Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, was a joint effort between the Israel Missile Defense organization of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. Israel’s Aerospace Industries and Boeing jointly developed the Arrow. The Arrow system became operational in 2017 and has been deployed to counter Iranian and Syrian missiles.

The Arrow 3 interceptor successfully demonstrated its capability against the exo-atmospheric target.  Vice Admiral Jon Hill, the director of the Missile Defense Agency said, “These successful tests mark a major milestone in the development of the Arrow weapon system.” He added, “it provides confidence in the future capabilities to defeat the developing threats in the region.” As for the State of Israel, the successful testing of the Arrow 3 interceptor is particularly encouraging for Israeli civilians. They now know that Arrow 3 provides the Jewish state with a security net against an Iranian attack with ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads. Then again, it is essential for Israel to produce an appreciable quantity of the Arrow 3 launcher and interceptor missiles to forestall an Iranian or possibly a Hezbollah attack with multiple missiles launched at once.

At the July 28, 2019 cabinet meeting, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Our innovative tests in Alaska took part in collaboration with our ally, the United States. The tests outside the atmosphere went perfectly: each target was a bulls-eye! Israel has the ability to send ballistic missiles to Iran, a huge gain for Israel’s security.” The successful Israeli testing of the Arrow 3 exposes Iran’s vulnerability to an Israeli missile attack. Iran lacks the weapon system that is capable of intercepting incoming ballistic missiles. It is now noteworthy to recall PM Netanyahu’s warning to Iran that Israel would destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities should Tehran become an imminent nuclear threat to Israel. The inclusion of the Arrow 3 in Israel's arsenal makes Netanyahu’s warning much more credible. Israel, however, is unlikely to initiate a war with Iran unless the Islamic Republic is close to producing a nuclear bomb or invades Israeli territory.

Another reason why the Arrow 3 is critical to Israel’s security is that when it hits an enemy missile with a nuclear payload, the explosion and the radioactive material it spreads will remain in space rather than contaminate Israeli soil or its neighbors.

Iran is seeking to develop ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads that can split when they re-enter the atmosphere. Insofar as western and Israeli intelligence services would reveal, Iran does not yet have the capabilities to produce a small enough nuclear warhead that can fit into a Shihab 3 ballistic missile the Iranians have or similar missiles that might be able to reach Israel. Iran might also be working on another viable option, namely, a cruise-missile that can carry a nuclear warhead. Using aircrafts or ships that would carry a nuclear devise would be too risky for the Iranians since it could be intercepted and destroyed before they reached their destination.

Israel’s technological contributions to the world have been immense considering its lack of natural resources and its smallness. In facing its Arab and now Iranian enemies, with far greater manpower and natural resources (or arms in the early years in particular), Israelis resolved to survive with the famous Hebrew expression of ‘Ein Breira’ (there is no choice, we must use our brains to overcome or perish).  With the Holocaust always in the background and motivated by the need to defend itself against its hostile neighbors, even in the earliest days of the State, companies such as Israel Aviation industries (IAI), Rafael, Elbit, and Tadiran, produced advanced technologies for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), eventually growing into an international export industry.

In the 1970’s, Israel’s technological know-how began to be applied far beyond the military and spread into the civilian market. Simultaneously, international corporate giants established research and development centers in Israel, including such companies as Motorola, IBM, National Semiconductors, and especially Intel. Israeli ingenuity contributed in a significant way to Intel’s world dominance, which is based on its continuing ability to innovate. The world’s largest chip maker relies on Israeli talent for many of its breakthroughs created in Intel’s R&D centers in Haifa and Petach Tikvah, where the Pentium M chip was created. Pentium M lies at the heart of the Centrino-, which enables Wi-Fi to operate. World renowned companies such as Cisco and Microsoft rely heavily on Israeli R&D facilities. Most of the Window NT operating system was developed by Microsoft-Israel. 

Israeli technological innovations are not limited to the computer, they go into homes and improve personal lives. More importantly, Israeli technology saves lives. One such example is the PillCam, the first ever ingestible video camera, which helps doctors diagnose gastrointestinal diseases likes Crohn’s and Celiac. There are too many lifesaving devises and cures to include in one article.  

Israel’s lifesaving Military related technology includes the Emergency Bandage (Israeli bandage), Visual-ICE, which provides a minimally invasive, easy to use system to precisely destroy solid cancer tumors of the kidney, lung, bone, liver, and prostate, and they enable nerve ablation for pain management. Visual-ICE, developed by Galil Medical, took its innovative cryotherapy, based on the cooling technologies taken from the tip of the Rafael missiles. Cardiac Catheterization was developed by biosense Webster, which is an Israeli company. It is a computer-vision tracking mechanism originally developed for the Israeli air force (IAF) by Elbit, leading to the miniaturized 3D cardiac mapping and navigation technology built inside the revolutionary Catheters. The IDF has served as an incubator for the Start-Ups that have sprung out of it.

The Arrow 3 Interceptor is not only a great technological breakthrough, it is an essential component that serves to complete Israel’s defense against an attack by enemy missiles. It is part of a multi-layered defense shield, providing a third layer of defense. Arrow 3 is designed to intercept long-range missiles that could strike Israel from thousands of miles away. The David’s Sling system provides protection from medium to long-range missiles or suicide drones. Finally, the more familiar Iron Dome is the third layer of defense. It has been used effectively to intercept short and medium range rockets, the kind Hamas has fired in recent years, targeting Israeli population centers.

Yaakov Katz, co-author of The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower, wrote, “Israel is the only country in the world that has used missile defense systems in times of war.  These systems do more than just save lives. They also give the country’s leadership ‘diplomatic maneuverability,’ the opportunity to think and strategize before retaliating against rocket attacks.”

* * *

Photo by U.S. Missile Defense Agency