On November 13, Israel’s Ministry of Defense released video footage featuring the ‘Arrow’ defense system in action, likely intercepting a medium-range ballistic missile launched by the Houthis.
The Ministry of Defense utilized X (formerly Twitter) to disseminate a video, beginning with a loud siren and showcasing the subsequent missile launch. The accompanying caption read, “The operational launch of an ‘Arrow’ interceptor during the Swords of Iron war.”
Although the Israel Ministry of Defense did not specify the date, the Israel-based news outlet i24NEWS implied that the footage documents the inaugural operational use of the Arrow 2 system during the Sword of Iron conflict on October 31.
This deployment was in response to a rocket projectile launched by the Iran-backed Houthi government in Yemen over the Red Sea region. In addition to this, the Arrow 2 missile system also successfully intercepted a long-range rocket launched from Gaza.
The Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s statement reveals that the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) documented the operational launch in southern Israel within the Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of Defense R&D (DDR&D).
The Arrow interceptor missiles are believed to be more effective against ballistic missiles than the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile. It is jointly funded and developed by Israel and the US.
Watch: The operational launch of an 'Arrow' interceptor during the Swords of Iron war. pic.twitter.com/uQWTRhk6D9
— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) November 13, 2023
Executed by the Israeli Air Force’s Air and Missile Defense Array, the launch resulted in the successful interception of the designated target. However, the Israeli Defense Ministry did not disclose where the interceptor missile was launched.
The footage illustrates the ongoing threat Israel faces from Iran-backed Houthis, who have carried out multiple attacks since the initiation of the Gaza conflict. These attacks have involved cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and drones.
So far, none of the projectiles were reported to have successfully reached targets inside Israel; instead, they either fell short or were destroyed by missile defense systems. Nevertheless, additional rounds of Houthi missile fire and drone launches have persisted over the last week and beyond.
Furthermore, following the initial operational deployment of the Arrow-2 in late October, Israeli forces strategically relocated several missile-launching capable ships to the Red Sea. This move aims to enhance defenses in response to escalating threats from the Yemen-based Houthis.
Israel’s Multi-Tiered Integrated Air Defense Network
Alongside the operational use of the Arrow-2 air defense system, Israel employed the Arrow 3 exoatmospheric ballistic missile interceptor for the first time on November 9, as announced by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD).
The Arrow system, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, functions as the uppermost layer in Israel’s multi-tiered integrated air defense network, designed to thwart incoming ballistic missiles.
Israel recently inked a deal to export the Arrow 3 system to Germany in response to evolving threats following the conflict in Ukraine. Israel has unveiled plans for an Arrow 4 system in 2021, building on the accomplishments of Arrow 3.
Within the middle tier of Israel’s air defenses lies the David’s Sling air defense system, developed in collaboration with the United States.
David’s Sling, created by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, has been actively deployed in the ongoing conflict, and Finland is acquiring this system from Israel.
On November 12, Israel’s Defense Ministry marked a historic milestone by finalizing an agreement to sell the David’s Sling air defense system to Finland.
This groundbreaking deal, estimated at 317 million euros (NIS 1.3 billion), reflects a first-of-its-kind arrangement, further solidifying Israel’s position as a provider of advanced defense capabilities internationally.
Meanwhile, within the lower tier of Israel’s comprehensive air defense infrastructure stands the Iron Dome system, a creation by Rafael, which serves as the fundamental component of the nation’s air defense capabilities.
Iron Dome is widely recognized as the most actively deployed air defense system, engineered to intercept short-range artillery fire and rockets.
Furthermore, Israel operates the MIM-104 Patriot missile defense battery, a prized US-manufactured surface-to-air missile system with the capacity to neutralize a wide range of threats, spanning from ballistic and cruise missiles to drones and loitering munitions.
All of these air defense systems play a critical role in safeguarding Israel from the threats posed by rocket and drone attacks.
Given the multifaceted challenges posed by Hezbollah militants in the north, Houthi militants in the south, and Hamas militants in the west, Israel’s air defense network faces comprehensive testing as missiles and rockets are launched from various directions.