KODIAK — Three Israeli rocket launches took place at the Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak in the past two weeks, Missile Defense Agency Public Affairs Officer Heather Cavaliere confirmed to the Kodiak Daily Mirror on Friday.
“In recent weeks, we have conducted three pioneering secret experiments of the Arrow 3 missile,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during an Israeli cabinet meeting Sunday.
“They were successful beyond our wildest imagination. The Arrow 3 successfully intercepted ballistic missiles outside of the atmosphere at unprecedented heights and speeds. The execution was flawless — every target hit perfectly.”
Arrow 3 is a missile defense system intended to intercept ballistic missiles outside Earth’s atmosphere. The testing successfully demonstrated hit-to-kill interception capabilities of high altitude targets, using an American surveillance radar, according to a Missile Defense Agency news release.
“Today, Israel has the capacity to operate against ballistic missiles launched from Iran and any other place. This is an immense achievement for the security of Israel. Our enemies should know that we are prepared to defeat them both in offense and in defense,” Netanyahu said. “And, I want to thank the bears for not disturbing us.”
In a video posted on YouTube by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Israel Missile Defense Organization Director Moshe Patel spoke about the testing from the Kodiak launch site.
“Three years ago, we understood that we have a safety issue to conduct this kind of flight test in Israel when we try to kill a hard target,” Patel said. “Together with our U.S. partners we reached (out) to the U.S. Congress to ask for specific budget for this activity. And, after we received this budget, we initiated a feasibility study of test ranges that can host us.”
Patel said that after three years of planning along with members of the Missile Defense Agency, the Israelis arrived in Kodiak 11 weeks ago.
“The missiles mimicked missiles similar to those of our enemies in the region,” Patel said, alluding to the Iranians. “There are limited times we can set the experiment and, according to that, we set the date together with the Americans. From our perspective, we came fully prepared to conduct these tests. In Israel, there is a safety limit to conducting a test of this kind and that is why it took place in the US.”
In 2017, Missile Defense Agency Director And Navy Vice Adm. James Syring explained in testimony to the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee that the Arrow-3 “has significant range constraints within the Mediterranean,” testing there is not possible.
“One of the better places to test is in Alaska, from Kodiak, and we plan to do that next year,” he said at the time. The tests were eventually pushed back to this summer.
Patel declined to reveal any information about the range or altitude ot the tests, but noted that they were the longest range ever measured with the Arrow system, which was tested in full operational mode.
“We proved capability against threats that don’t exist in the region yet. Of every missile intercepted by the system, only dust remained,” Patel said.
The Arrow Weapon System is a central part of Israel’s multi-layer defense system. The defense system is based on four operational layers: Iron Dome Defense System, David’s Sling Weapon System, the Arrow-2, and the Arrow-3, according to the release.
“Of behalf of President Trump and his administration, I just would like to tell you how delighted we were with the successful results of the test,” David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said during the Israeli cabinet meeting Sunday.
“The system is a critical component of Israel’s anti-missile defense. The results were extraordinary, we are proud of our partnership with Israel, of the funding we provided, the technical expertise that we added and, obviously, making our airspace available above Alaska.
“This is an extraordinary and unprecedented example of the cooperation between our two great countries. And, from here, may we continue to go upward and onward in making the world a safer place.”
Israel Aerospace Industries is the main contractor for the Arrow 3 system. Elbit Systems, Boeing, Tomer and Rafael were all subcontractors on the project. The intercepted missiles were developed by Rafael and launched by an Israeli Air Force aircraft.
A temporary living quarters were constructed near PSCA in 2018 to house personnel involved in the project. The facility, constructed at a cost of over $1 million, includes a kosher kitchen and synagogue.
A team of from Israel has occupied a temporary housing facility near the launch site since May. The Israeli team included specialists ranging between 20 and 78 in age, according to an Israeli representative.
Patel told Israeli reporters that there has been interest in exporting the Arrow 3 system to other countries. However, such a move would require the approval of the Israeli and American ministries of defense.
According to Cavaliere, the operation has ended and no additional launches are planned as part of the project.
The Alaska Aerospace Corporation deferred all comment to the Missile Defense Agency.