Wednesday 8 September 2004

Civil Purposes Updated

Just in, about 5 minutes ago, from The Australian :
Iran said today it was ready to show off a test of its improved Shahab-3 medium range missile, which is capable of hitting Israel, to "observers" in order to prove it is a success.

"The ministry is ready to organise a new test of the Shahab-3 missile in the presence of observers," Defence Minister Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani said in a statement carried by the official news agency IRNA.

"The recent test that was carried out was a success."
The Shahab-3 missile was deployed among the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in July last year. Although the missile has been paraded with the banner "Israel should be wiped off the map", Iran says it is purely defensive.

Next time I'll try to give a bit more warning. The Shahub-3's existence has been known for over a year, but not its range.

Meanwhile this (from August 27th) is less than encouraging :
An anti-ballistic missile under development by Israel and the US missed its target today in its latest test off the California coast, a spokesman said.

The Arrow missile failed to intercept an air-launched missile over the Pacific and both fell into the water, said Chris Taylor, spokesman for the US Missile Defence Agency.

"The engineers don't yet know what happened," Mr Taylor said.

It was the 13th Arrow intercept test and the eighth test of the complete weapon system. Officials have not said how many of the tests have been successful.

Last month, an Arrow successfully hit a missile launched from a platform on the ocean range off Point Mugu, 72km north-west of Los Angeles.

Arrow 2

And although the story above talks about an 'air-launched target', China's Xinhua newsagency has a different story:
The Arrow anti-ballistic missile is capable of intercepting an Iranian Shihab-3 missile, despite its failure to do so in a test off the California coast, Israeli Defence Ministry official said Friday.

Aryeh Herzog, the Defense Ministry official in charge of the Arrow project, Friday focused on the Arrow's ability to distinguish between different targets and ignore dummy targets, which is necessary for both the Iranian and Syrian missiles.

"The element of distinguishing was successful, and the element of final interception had a local malfunction in the Arrow missile," Herzog told Israel Radio.

"Since 2002, the Air Force's system, which is operational, is capable of intercepting Iranian Shihab-3 missiles, and we are certainly confident in this."

The Arrow, which is being developed by Israel and the United States, failed Thursday to destroy a target missile simulating an Iranian Shihab-3 and a Scud-D of the type Syria possesses.

The Israeli monitoring center found that the Arrow succeeded in identifying the warhead in time, but the intercept failed because of an unidentified malfunction, possibly in the guidance system.
Al Ahram has some interesting technical data, and some very chilling words too. :
Independent experts give the Arrow a 95 per cent success rate at intercepting its target. However, there are some reservations over its capacity to confront a barrage of state-of-the-art Shihab-3s from the Iranian arsenal. According to the Jerusalem Post 's military correspondent, the Shihab-3 has a speed of 6 kilometres per second, or more than four times the speed of a Scud and twice the speed of the targets the Arrow missile was designed to intercept.
The official Arab newsagency quoting the Jerusalem Post? Maybe there's hope for the world after all. Then again, as the article continue, maybe not.
As the foregoing suggests, Israel's primary aim in owning antiballistic missiles such as the Arrow is to counter the threat of Iranian and Syrian missiles and other missiles in the Arab and Islamic countries. It is generally understood that these missiles are the only weapon available to the Arabs capable of overcoming or neutralising Israel's nuclear capacities, especially if fitted out with unconventional biological or chemical warheads.
It's not been a good week for Israel. But then again, it's not called 'Rocket Science' for nothing. From Reuters :
A rocket carrying an Israeli spy satellite intended to boost the Jewish state's surveillance over arch-enemy Iran crashed into the sea shortly after liftoff, officials and defence sources say.

The Defence Ministry blamed a malfunction in the third stage of the Shavit rocket, which took off from an air base south of Tel Aviv on Monday. Witnesses saw a flash of light near coastal Palmahim base. There were no reports of casualties.
Israeli defence sources said the Ofek-6 -- the latest in Israel's locally produced line of spy satellites -- was intended to improve surveillance over Iran. Israel's strategic defence systems depend on satellites to spot incoming missile threats.

"Such incidents are very expensive for all involved," a defence source said about the lost satellite.
That could be a real understatement.

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