Can Israel’s Arrow-4 missile shoot down hypersonic missiles?

Israel has partnered with the US to develop the next-generation Arrow-4 air defense system. The Arrow-4 missile, jointly developed by the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the US Missile Defense Agency, has been underway since 2017.

Although the Arrow-4 was originally designed to counter new long-range missiles; but recent sources say, it may have more advanced capabilities. This makes even more sense, given that the US and Israel, both allies, face significant threats from countries like Iran, Russia, and China.

Israel has always been at the forefront of developing the most powerful and effective air defense systems globally, in the face of frequent threats from its Arab neighbors and the Palestinian territories.

Israeli defense companies have developed an effective air defense system, known as the “Iron Dome“, to protect the country from mortar and missile aatacks.

Israel is also a pioneer in building a multi-layered defense system. The Jewish state has equipped itself with a multi-layered Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) shield, including Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Barak-8, Iron Dome, and Iron Beam (laser-based).

The Arrow 2 and 3 missiles form the top layer of Israel’s defense shield, both jointly developed by Israeli defense company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and US Boeing. These missiles are part of the Arrow Air Defense Weapon System (AWS); This is the world’s first autonomous, national-level tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) defense system.

Arrow 3 long-range anti-ballistic missile
Arrow 3 and Arrow 2 long-range anti-ballistic missile

The development of the Arrow 2 was spurred by threats from the First Gulf War. At that time Israel faced the threat of Iraqi Scud ballistic missiles and had to rely on the US Patriot umbrella. Both Arrow 2 and 3 rockets are designed to operate in the earth’s atmosphere, as well as in outer space. Production of the Arrow 2 missile began in 2000, while production of the Arrow 3 began in 2016. The Arrow 3 missile was designed to defeat medium-range ballistic missiles.

Following the decades-long history of cooperation between Israel and the United States in the development of the Arrow Air Defense Weapon System; In February 2021, the US and Israel announced that they would jointly design and develop the next-generation air defense system Arrow-4.

In July 2021, IAI and Lockheed-Martin signed a memorandum of understanding to co-develop the Arrow-4 rocket. This type of missile is intended to replace the Arrow 2 missile in handling lower-flying short- and medium-range ballistic missile targets.

The development of the Arrow-4 largely began in response to threats from Iran’s long-range ballistic missiles. One notable feature of the Arrow-4 would be its warhead, which is designed to help threats inside the atmosphere; especially threats with hypersonic flying objects.

Iran currently has no hypersonic missiles to threaten Israel. However, America’s rivals, China and Russia, are both moving quite fast in the field of hypersonic weapons.

China has unveiled its DF-17 land-based hypersonic missile launchers and DS-100 supersonic anti-ship missile. There are reasons to believe that China may even be on the verge of perfecting supersonic drones and the tactics for using them.

Meanwhile, Russia is clearly deploying Kinzhal and Zircon tactical hypersonic missiles and Avangard strategic missiles; Both missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Faced with such a situation, Israel wants to be one step ahead and be prepared before Russian or Chinese hypersonic technology is exported to the Middle East.

The Arrow-4 missile uses a two-stage booster, allowing it to reach hypersonic speeds of up to Mach 9. Countering hypersonic weapons, however, will require better maneuverability, as well as the need for greater maneuverability. has wider sensor coverage, to be able to detect enemy hypersonic weapons early and guide Arrow-4 missiles to intercept targets.

Media reports around Arrow-4 show that this missile will be designed to be able to intercept hypersonic cruise missiles with a mechanism of changing flight and gliding warheads.

The Arrow-4 missile is also designed to be able to intercept a single-warhead or multiple-warhead (MIRV) ballistic missile. With one country consistently demonstrating the ability to deal with air threats, it’s Israel and the Arrow-4 missile could prove a life-changing next-generation air defense system.

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