Arrow (Israel)

Quick Facts

Mobility Ground-based, mobile launchers and command center, semi-mobile radar
Targets Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of flight
Role and Interceptors Area and theater missile defense, upper tier of Israeli layered missile defense; Arrow-2—two-stage solid-propelled rocket with 90 km range and 50 km altitude ceiling tipped with a direct fragmentation warhead;[i] Arrow-3—two-stage solid-propelled rocket with kinetic hit-to-kill warhead.
Status/Country of Origin/Deployment Arrow-2—operational, Arrow-3—operational; Israel – approximately two to three batteries equipped with Arrow-2 and one battery with Arrow-3 interceptors[ii]
Producer Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)
Cost Each battery is estimated to cost around $170 million;[iii] $3 million per interceptor (as of 2003)[iv]


The Arrow project began in the 1980s when its design was submitted to the United States in response to President Regan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.[v] The system was promoted as a more effective theater missile defense system than the Patriot air defense platform. After a successful demonstration test, the system, called Arrow-1, underwent full-scale development and pre-production with joint funding from the United States and Israel.[vi] The original Arrow-1 interceptor had two stages, used solid-fuel, and was designed to intercept short-range ballistic missiles such as Scuds.[vii] Arrow not only provides Israel with much-needed ballistic missile defense in a hostile region, but also offers valuable technical information for the United States that can be utilized to progress U.S. and allied BMD capabilities.

Arrow was one of the first upper-tier missile defense systems to be operationally deployed, becoming operational within the Israeli Defense Forces in 2000.[viii] With two deployed batteries—one near Tel Aviv and the other South of Haifa—Arrow protects much of Israel against short- to medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of flight.[ix]

Launcher for Arrow-2 system; also compatible with Arrow-3 interceptors

Launchers for Arrow-2; also compatible with Arrow-3 interceptors

The Arrow missile defense platform consists of multiple systems to identify, track, and intercept ballistic missile threats. The missile defense system consists of high-altitude interceptors housed in mobile launchers and equipped with interceptors that track ballistic missile threats and engage them in the terminal phase of flight. Arrow functions in conjunction with Green Pine long-range, ground-based fire control radar, which is a transportable solid state phased array radar with a range of approximately 500 km.[x] To control the Arrow system and its engagements, a mobile Citron Tree battle management center is employed.[xi] All system components for Arrow are mobile or semi-mobile, allowing the entire missile defense system to easily relocate to avoid  preemptive strikes.


In 1995, an improved Arrow-1 interceptor, called Arrow-2, was first tested. This interceptor was significantly lighter, weighing approximately 1,300kg. Declared operational in 2000[xii], Arrow-2 did not undergo rigorous testing until 2003. Since then, the missile defense platform has undergone 14 intercept tests.[xiii] Arrow-2 interceptors have two stages, 90 km range, 50 km altitude ceiling, and are equipped with a fragmentation warhead. The system’s range is far greater than that of the U.S.-made Patriot/PAC-2 systems—which Israel formerly relied on exclusively for missile defense—allowing Arrow-2 to provide upper-tier defense against ballistic missile threats across a wide area.[xiv]


Overall, the Arrow-3 system weighs less than half of Arrow-2 and is subsequently more advanced in speed, range, and altitude than its predecessor.[xv] Unlike Arrow-2, Arrow-3 is capable of exo-atmospheric ballistic missile intercepts in space[xvi], and instead of a fragmentation warhead, the upgraded interceptor uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy targets with kinetic energy. In addition, the new Arrow interceptor will include upgraded communications, guidance, and sensor systems and is interoperable with Arrow-2 launchers; minimizing cost and maximizing efficiency. This advanced upper-tier missile defense system established initial operational capability (IOC) on January 18, 2017.

U.S. Financial Assistance to Israel for Arrow[xvii]

Fiscal Year Amount Appropriated
FY1990-FY2003 $994.4 million
FY2004 $145 million
FY2005 $154.8 million
FY2006 $122.9 million
FY2007 $117.5 million
FY2008 $118.6 million
FY2009 $104.3 million
FY2010 $122.3 million
FY2011 $125.4 million
FY2012 $125.2 million
FY2013 $115.5 million
FY2014 $119.1 million
FY2015 $130.9 million
FY2016 $146.1 million
FY2017 $272.2 million
Total $2.9 billion

Strategic Implications

An Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile

An Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which Arrow is designed to counter

Israel’s geographic location means the country is constantly at risk of ballistic missile attack. When the Israelis began development of Arrow in the 1980s, the primary missile threats to Israel came from Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Subsequently, the Arrow project was undertaken as a collaborative U.S.-Israeli effort to counter these numerous missile threats to Israel. Currently, Iran stands as the primary ballistic missile threat to Israel and possesses a sophisticated and perpetually advancing arsenal of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. In conjunction with Iran’s ballistic missile capability is the country’s nuclear breakout potential, open threats of annihilation towards Israel, and continued support—including provision of ballistic missiles—for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.[xviii] In light of the growing Iranian short- and medium-range ballistic missile threat, the importance of the Arrow program has grown significantly.

The Arrow system has also provided the United States with valuable information on ballistic missile defense. Arrow, being one of the first upper-tier missile defense systems, was vital for advancing the U.S. BMD program, and technical lessons learned from the Arrow program were noted and applied to U.S. missile defense systems such as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) and Aegis BMD. The United States has blocked Israel from exporting the Arrow system, however, individual components of the system—such as the Green Pine radar—have been sold to interested third parties.[xix]


January  22, 2019: The IMDO and MDA successfully completed a test of the Arrow-3 interceptor.

January 18, 2017: Arrow-3 became operational and was transferred to Israeli Air Force Aerial Defense Array.

December 10, 2015: Arrow-3 conducts its first successful intercept test in space over the Mediterranean Sea.[xx]

February 22, 2011: Arrow successfully intercepts ballistic missile during flight test at Pt. Mugu Sea Range, California.[xxi] The test was designed to replicate a realistic scenario in which all the system elements—including Arrow, Green Pine radar, and Citron Tree BMC—worked together to identify, track, and intercept a target missile.

July 26, 2010: Israel and the United States agree to a deal to develop and field the Arrow-3 system.[xxii]

May 12, 2009: Arrow-3 was publicly stated as being associated with Israel’s multi-tier defense system in accordance with Iron Dome and David’s Sling.[xxiii]

April 7, 2009: Israeli Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency conduct a successful test of Arrow-2, marking the 17th Arrow test, but the first successful test of the Arrow-2 system.[xxiv]

January 4, 2009: Arrow-2 was reported as being deployed near Ashkelon, equipped with an upgraded MC4 radar capable of identifying smaller projectiles.[xxv]

2008: Joint U.S.-Israeli development on Arrow-3 was initiated.

April 15, 2008: Israel successfully tests the Green Pine Radar.[xxvi]

2007: Interoperability issues between Patriot/PAC-3 and Arrow were worked out during the biennial Juniper Cobra exercise.[xxvii]

August 23, 2007: It was reported that an Arrow missile defense battery was deployed to northern Israel.[xxviii]

August 6, 2007: Israeli officials notified the U.S. Missile Defense Agency that Israel would upgrade its Arrow system rather than pursue the U.S.-made THAAD.[xxix]

March 26, 2007: The improved Arrow-2 interceptor undergoes a successful flight test.[xxx]

February 12, 2007: Arrow-2 is tested for the first time and conducts a successful intercept of a target ballistic missile.[xxxi]

February 11, 2007: Arrow again successfully destroyed a replicated Shahab-3 missile.[xxxii]

December, 2005: Arrow successfully destroyed a replicated Shahab-3 missile during a test.[xxxiii]

February 2, 2005: Israel Defense Forces carry out a successful test of the Arrow missile defense system.[xxxiv]

August 26, 2004: Arrow conducted its 13th successful intercept test, and its eighth successful test using the full system, at the Pt. Mugu Sea Range in California.[xxxv]

July 29, 2004: Israel and the United States carried out a test in which Arrow was launched against a real Scud missile. The test was a success.[xxxvi]

2002: Israel deployed a second Arrow battery near Haifa in 2002.[xxxvii]

September 14, 2000: Arrow-2 conducted its second successful test in Israel, successfully intercepting a missile target.[xxxviii]

March 14, 2000: Israel deployed the first battery of Arrow-1 missiles south of Tel Aviv.[xxxix]

July, 1995: The first flight test of Arrow-2 is described as successful.[xl]

February, 1993: The fifth Arrow-1 test demonstrates that the interceptor can locate and intercept an incoming missile.[xli]

1990: Israel conducts the first test of the Arrow-1 anti-tactical ballistic missile system.[xlii]

May 1986: Israel and the United States sign a memorandum of understanding on joint development of the Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile system.[xliii]

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[ix] Ibid.


[xi] Ibid.











[xxii] Ibid.






[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] Ibid.

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] Ibid.

[xxxiv] Ibid.

[xxxv] Ibid.

[xxxvi] Ibid.



[xxxix] Ibid.


[xli] Ibid.

[xlii] Ibid.

[xliii] Ibid.