Israel Conducts Successful
Anti-Missile Test -
$1.2 Billion Project
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel conducted a successful test launch over the Mediterranean of its Arrow anti-missile missile on Monday, a defence industry official said. The launch, from a military base on the coast south of Tel Aviv, was the first time the Arrow's three components -- the missile, the radar designed to track incoming missiles and the fire control system -- had been tested together. ``All parameters, all functions, all parts of the test worked the best of my knowledge as of now,'' Menachem Shmul-Hemi, a senior official at state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries, the main contractor for the Arrow, told Reuters. ``It was in the air for 97 seconds until it was intentionally exploded,'' he said. The missile-killing missile did not carry out an actual interception but ``acquired and destroyed'' a simulated target, Israel Radio said. It was the first reported successful launch of the Arrow, originally part of the U.S. ``Star Wars'' programme, since a failed test in August 1997 in which the missile malfunctioned and was destroyed. The $1.6 billion project is jointly financed by the United States and Israel. Israel hopes the Arrow will be able to counter any ballistic missile threat from Iran, which test-launched a surface-to-surface missile in July with sufficient range to reach the Jewish state. The Arrow is supposed to intercept missiles between 10 km (six miles) and 40 km (25 miles) above the ground. Israeli officials expect the first operational Arrow missile battery to be deployed in 1999.