Israel and the U.S. are starting to develop a new Arrow-4 missile defense interceptor as a next-generation part of the Arrow Weapon System (AWS), the governments said Thursday.

Development is occurring with cooperation between the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) within the Directorate of Defense Research and Development in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and primary contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Artist concept of the Arrow-4 missile interceptor being developed by Israel, the U.S. and Israel Aerospace Industries. (Image: Israel Aerospace Industries)
Artist concept of the Arrow-4 missile interceptor being developed by Israel, the U.S. and Israel Aerospace Industries. (Image: Israel Aerospace Industries)

MDA described Arrow-4 as “the next generation of endo-exoatmospheric interceptors for the Arrow Weapon System,” which means it is aimed at defeating threats coming form both inside and outside the atmosphere.

It said the Arrow-4 will have unspecified “enhanced capabilities” and “will address a wide range of evolving threats in the region and will replace the Arrow 2 interceptors over the coming decades.”

“Arrow 4 is a cooperative program between MDA and IMDO that illustrates U.S. commitment to assisting the government of Israel in upgrading its national missile defense capability to defend the state of Israel from emerging threats,” MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said in a statement.

IMDO Director Moshe Patel noted this development is occurring 30 years after the Gulf War, which spurred the establishment of IMDO and the joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation.

“Over the last three decades, we have developed one of the most advanced missile defense arrays in the world, built of four combat proven operational layers. These capabilities are being constantly improved against emerging threats. Arrow-4 will have outstanding flight and interception capabilities, and continue to ensure the security of the State of Israel,” Patel said.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said “the development of Arrow-4 together with our American partners will result in a technological and operational leap forward, preparing us for the future battlefield and the ever-evolving threats in the Middle East and beyond.”

Jacob Galifat, general manager of the IAI/MLM Division, boasted the Arrow-4 interceptor “will be the most advanced of its kind in the world and will provide a new layer of defense to the State of Israel and its citizens.”

The overall AWS includes radar systems developed by IAI subsidiary Elta, a battle management center system developed by Elbit Systems, and a launch array and interceptors produced by IAI subsidiary MLM.

The U.S. government helps fund Israel’s missile defense program and under a current memorandum of understanding between the countries the U.S. provides $500 million in annual funding for Israel’s multi-layered air and missile defense.

Israel’s air and missile defense systems include the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 systems.

The Arrow 2 has been operational since 2000 for endo and exoatmospheric defense while the Arrow 3 was delivered for operational use as primarily an exoatmospheric defense system in 2017.

Arrow 3 is the “upper layer of Israel’s multi-tier missile defense array,” MDA said.

Previously, in December, both governments said they completed a series of flight tests with the separate David’s Sling missile defense system including an intercept of a threat-representative target (Defense Daily, Dec. 15, 2020).

In 2019, the U.S. and Israel completed a flight test campaign of the Arrow-3 interceptor in Alaska, demonstrating the systems’ capability to affect a high altitude hit-to-kill engagement (Defense Daily, July 29, 2019).