Arrow 2 (Israel)

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Arrow 2 is a missile defense interceptor used in the Arrow Weapon System, the upper layer of Israel’s missile defense system. Co-developed by the United States and Israel, the Arrow system is designed to defeat short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. The two-stage, solid-propellant missile intercepts targets in the upper atmosphere; Israel deployed its first Arrow 2 units in 2000.

System elements

The Arrow Weapon System consists of the Arrow missile and launcher, the EL/M-2080 Green Pine radar, a Hazelnut Tree launch control center, and a Citron Tree battle management center. Each launcher carries up to 6 missiles, and Arrow’s fire control system can attempt up to 14 simultaneous intercepts. The system is compatible with the United States’ Link-16 datalink, allowing communication with Patriot and other air defense systems.1 Arrow 2 is one of two interceptors compatible with the system, intended for lower-altitude targets than the long-range Arrow 3.

Arrow 2 uses a two-stage, solid-propellant booster to reach speeds of up to Mach 9. The missile is 6.95 m long, 0.8 m in diameter, and weighs 1,300 kg. To engage targets, it features a finned kill vehicle with an explosive-fragmentation warhead, which can focus its blast in a direction specified by the missile seeker. If the missile fails to strike the target directly, this warhead detonates within 40 – 50m of the target. Arrow 2 features two seekers—an active-radar seeker and a US-produced imaging infrared seeker—for endgame navigation and warhead fuzing.2

Arrow 2’s command and control system is capable of tracking and engaging 14 targets at a time. The system’s Green Pine radar is a 3-D phased array roughly 12 m long and 5 m high, with separate power supply, coolant, and communications vehicles. The system is thought to have a detection range of 500 km and can intercept targets at a maximum range of 100 km and altitude of 50 km.3

Arrow 2 development

Arrow system development began in June 1988 as a jointly-funded effort between Israel and the United States. The first missile in the series, the Arrow 1 technology demonstrator, underwent its first flight test in 1990 and completed its seventh, and final flight in 1994. From 1995 to 1996, Israel conducted three test flights of the Arrow Continuation Experiment (ACES) demonstrator, a lighter missile which became the basis for the Arrow 2 system.4

Israel first flight tested the Arrow 2 in March 1997, successfully intercepting a ballistic target. 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.5

August 1995IIT-21Unknown
February 1996IIT-22Unknown
August 1995AIT-21SuccessIntercept of ballistic target
March 1997AIT-22/AST-1SuccessIntercept of ballistic target
August 1997AIT-23/AST-2FailureAborted after interceptor defect
September 14, 1998AST-3No-testArrow system integration demonstrated, target failed to launch
November 1, 1999AST-4SuccessFirst test of complete Arrow system; direct tail-chase hit on TM-91 ballistic missile target
September 14, 2000AST-5SuccessIntercept of Black Sparrow ballistic missile target at 300 km
August 2001AST-6SuccessIntercept of Black Sparrow target at 100 km
January 5, 2003AST-8SuccessFull system test “examining the system’s capabilities in a continuous launching scenario”
December 16, 2003AST-9Success
July 29, 2004USFT-1SuccessUS-Israel joint test, at Point Mugu, CA
August 26, 2004USFT-2FailureArrow malfunction in final stage
December 2, 2005AST-10Demonstration of complete weapon system
February 12, 2007SuccessIntercept of Black Sparrow target over Mediterranean, first US-Israel co-produced interceptor test
March 26, 2007SuccessIntercept with improved, co-produced interceptor
July 22, 2009No-testMDA: “Not all test conditions to launch the Arrow Interceptor were met, and it was not launched.”
February 22, 2011Success
February 10, 2012SuccessTracking-only test; no intercept; verified Arrow Block 4 upgrade
August 12, 2020AST-18aSuccessIntercept of MRBM target
Timeline of Arrow 2 developmental flights

Israel first took delivery of the Arrow 2 missile in 1998 and deployed its first Arrow battery, located at Palmachim Airbase, in October 2000. 6 Israel activated a second battery near Haifa in 2002. 7 Each battery is estimated to cost around $170M.8 On April 7, 2009, Arrow underwent a full-system test, successfully targeting a simulated Iran Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile.9 According to media reports, Israel first employed the Arrow 2 in combat in March 2017 against a Syrian surface-to-air missile.

U.S. Contribution

The United States and Israel signed an initial memorandum of understanding over an Israeli theater missile defense capability on May 6, 1986. Arrow technology development was intended to support U.S. theater missile defense efforts. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Arrow program provided valuable information on “lethality data on the effectiveness of blast fragmentation warheads…development of optical window technology; test data that helps validate U.S. [simulation] codes being used in two defense programs; and interoperability developments that will allow combined operations of Arrow and U.S. systems.”10 The United States and Israel signed an Arrow co-production agreement in February 2003; fifty percent of Arrow components are manufactured in the United States.

Currently, the United States has funded roughly half of the annual development costs of the Arrow 2 system. By 2020, the total U.S. financial contribution toward the Arrow Weapon System exceeded $3.7 billion.11 In fiscal 2014, the Arrow program’s annual budget totaled $163M, with the United States contributing roughly $119M.12

Beginning in fiscal 2016, the United States distinguished aid funding directed at the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 programs. In total, Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 received $1.3 and $1.2 billion, respectively. The FY16 NDAA authorized $45.5M for Arrow System Improvement Program separate from its funding of Arrow 3, the system’s follow-on program.13


    1. Jane’s 2002
    2. “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.
    3. “Arrow TMD,” Federation of American Scientists, June 28, 2000,
    4. Ibid.
    5. “Arrow 2 Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence System, Israel,” Army Technology,
    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. “Arrow Weapon System (AWS),” IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defence 2012-13, 692-695.
    9. Ibid.
    10. Malcolm R. O’Neill, “Paths of Protection,” Defense 25, No. 3 (1995), 15 – 26,
    11. Jeremy M. Sharp, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, RL33222, (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, November 2020),
    12. “FAQ: US-Israeli Ballistic Missile Defense Programs,” Missile Defense Agency,
    13. Ibid; National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-92, 129 Stat. 1140-1142 (2015).