On October 31, Israel’s military announced the use of the “Arrow” aerial defense system for the first time since the outbreak of the war with Hamas on October 7. The system successfully thwarted a surface-to-surface missile in the Red Sea that was launched toward Israeli territory.
The ballistic missile is suspected to have been launched by Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen and targeted at the southernmost city of Eilat, reported The Times of Israel.
On X (formerly Twitter), the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced, “The @IAFsite intercepted a surface-to-surface missile in the area of the Red Sea. This is the first operational interception by the Arrow Aerial Defense System since the beginning of the war.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) noted that their air force systems effectively tracked the missile’s trajectory and intercepted it at the most appropriate moment and location.
Furthermore, the IDF disclosed that fighter jets also engaged and successfully downed two additional “hostile targets,” believed to be drones, as they were operating in the Red Sea region earlier in the day.
All these threats were intercepted before breaching Israeli territory, with no reported intrusions detected within Israel’s borders. Images and videos surfaced on social media, revealing a visible trail of smoke left by the Arrow missile.
The Israeli military’s announcement followed closely after the Houthis, supported by Iran, launched drones toward Israel in response to Israel’s conflict with Hamas.
The Iran-backed Houthi insurgents in Yemen have also claimed responsibility for the missile attack, along with multiple similar attempted strikes on southern Israel in recent actions.
A senior Houthi official said that the group, which took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014 and exerts influence over significant portions of the country, considers itself an integral part of the “axis of resistance” against Israel and utilizes a combination of rhetoric and drone-based actions in their ongoing struggle.
חיל האוויר סיכל איום אווירי במרחב ים סוף; לראשונה מתחילת המלחמה – יירוט מבצעי של מערכת ההגנה לטווח רחוק ״חץ״
טיל קרקע-קרקע ששוגר לשטח מדינת ישראל ממרחב ים סוף, יורט בהצלחה על ידי מערכת ההגנה לטווח רחוק ״חץ״. pic.twitter.com/hE9Meh94Id
— Israeli Air Force (@IAFsite) October 31, 2023
Nonetheless, the recent attack is part of a series of assaults believed to have originated from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Concerns have arisen that Israel’s conflict with Hamas, which began due to the terror group’s violent actions on October 7, may escalate and potentially involve other fronts.
Arrow Missile Defense System
The Arrow, also known as Hetz, represents a missile family specially designed for the interception of ballistic targets. This system is a collaborative effort between Israeli and US industries, with Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing responsible for developing and modernizing this missile family.
This system encompasses Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 hypersonic anti-ballistic missiles, in addition to the Elta EL/M-2080 Green Pine and Golden Citron early warning radars.
However, the Arrow system comes at a considerable cost for both the United States and Israel. When the development commenced, the projected expenses for development and production amounted to roughly US$1.6 billion.
The estimated price of a single Arrow missile was around US$3 million. Data available indicates that from 1989 to 2007, approximately US$2.4 billion was invested in the Arrow program, with the United States contributing 50-80 percent of this funding.
Israel, on its part, contributes about US$65 million annually to sustain the program. The Arrow system achieved its first successful interception on March 17, 2017, when it neutralized an incoming S-200 missile.
The system is a multifaceted system designed to detect, monitor, and neutralize ballistic missile threats. This missile defense framework includes high-altitude interceptors that are carried in mobile launchers and are equipped with the capability to track ballistic missile threats and engage them during the terminal phase of their flight.
Arrow operates in coordination with the Green Pine long-range ground-based fire control radar, a portable phased array radar system with an effective range of approximately 500 kilometers.
To manage the Arrow system and its operations, a mobile Citron Tree battle management center is deployed. Notably, all components of the Arrow system are either mobile or semi-mobile, allowing for easy relocation to evade potential preemptive strikes.
Germany has recently agreed to procure the Israeli- and US-developed Arrow 3 long-range air defense system.
Israel Aerospace Industries is set to play a pivotal role in assisting Germany with integrating the Arrow 3 missile defense system, enabling its incorporation into Europe’s unified air defense system.