Arrow 2 (Israel)


Arrow 2Arrow 2 is a U.S.-Israeli developed system designed for theater defense against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. It consists of a two-stage interceptor with a solid propellant rocket motor booster that flies at Mach 9. Arrow 2 has a terminally-guided interceptor warhead that detonates within 40 to 50m of its target. The interceptor is 7m in length, 0.8m in diameter, and weighs 1,300kg. It contains a high explosive, focused fragmentation warhead and has a max range and altitude of 90km and 50km respectively.1 Arrow 2’s command and control system is capable of tracking and responding to 14 targets at a time and it is able to detect and track missiles from 500km away with an intercept range of around 10km.2

Currently deployed in Israel, the system consists of Arrow anti-missile interceptors, the Elta EL/M “Green Pine” early warning radar, the Elisra “Golden Citron” command and control center, and the Aerospace Industries “Brown Hazelnut” launch control center. Development of the Arrow system began in the 1980s and, since 1988, the United States has financially supported the research, development, and procurement of the system. Each battery is estimated to cost around $170M.3

Arrow 2 Development, Testing, and Fielding

The Arrow 2 missiles were first tested in 1995 and, as of 2016, the system has completed 14 intercept tests, including a July 29, 2004 test where an Arrow interceptor successfully destroyed a Scud missile.4 The system underwent a full-system test on April 7, 2009 where it successfully targeted a simulated Iran Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile.5

The first Arrow battery was deployed at Palmachim Airbase south of Tel Aviv and declared fully operational in October 2000.6 The second battery was deployed near Haifa in 2002 and these two batteries are estimated to protect 85% of Israel’s population centers. The Israeli Defense Force announced its intention to procure 100 interceptors for each Arrow 2 battery. Furthermore, reports from 2010 suggest that Israel is developing a third Arrow 2 site in the Negev Desert to provide further redundancy in protecting civilian centers.7

Israel began developing a follow-on system to Arrow 2 in 2008. Arrow 3 has an exo-atmospheric hit-to-kill interceptor and upgraded communications, guidance, and sensor systems. Although the Arrow 3 is certainly advanced, it is also interoperable with Arrow 2’s launchers and battle management centers. It was turned over from Israel’s IMDO to the Israeli Air Force on January 18, 2017, and instead of replacing the aging Arrow 2 system, it will serve as a complementary upper-layer to Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense apparatus.8

U.S. Contribution

The United States and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding as part of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to co-develop and co-fund the Arrow program on May 6, 1986. Arrow technology development was intended to be incorporated into U.S. theater missile defense systems. “The Arrow missile…offers the United States technology infusion, including lethality data; development of optical window technology applicable to both THAAD and Navy Area Defense programs; data from stage separation at high velocities and dynamic pressures; and, interoperability development that will allow synergistic operations of Arrow with US TMD systems…”9

Currently, the United States has funded around half of the annual development costs of the Arrow 2 system. As of 2015, the total U.S. financial contribution towards the Arrow program exceeded $2.4 billion.10 The estimated budget for the Arrow system in FY14 totaled $163M, with the United States contributing some $119M.11 The FY16 NDAA authorized $45.5M for Arrow System Improvement Program separate from its funding of Arrow 3, the system’s follow-on program.12

    1. “Arrow Weapon System (AWS),” IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defence 2012-13, ed. Christopher F. Foss and James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2013), 692-695.
    2. “Arrow TMD,” Federation of American Scientists, June 28, 2000,
    3. “Arrow Weapon System (AWS),” IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defence 2012-13, 692-695.
    4. “Arrow 2 Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence System, Israel,” Army Technology,
    5. “Arrow Weapon System (AWS),” IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defence 2012-13, 692-695.
    6. Jeremy M. Sharp, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service, June 10, 2015,, 11-12.
    7. “Arrow Weapon System (AWS),” IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defence 2012-13, 692-695.
    8. “Israel Expands Missile Defense System With New Interceptor,” The Washington Post, January 18, 2017,
    9. Federation of American Scientists, “Arrow TMD.”
    10. Jeremy M. Sharp, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” 11-12
    11. “FAQ: US-Israeli Ballistic Missile Defense Programs,” Missile Defense Agency,
    12. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-92, 129 Stat. 1140-1142 (2015).