Israel tests ballistic missile shield

Israel has tested its upgraded Arrow interceptor, which is designed to destroy in space the kind of missiles held by Iran and Syria, a Defence Ministry spokeswoman said.

Friday's launch of an Arrow III interceptor missile over the Mediterranean sea was the second flight of the system, but did not involve the interception of any target.

The US-backed Arrow III is designed to fire missiles at ballistic missiles above the earth's atmosphere, high enough to allow for any chemical, biological or nuclear warheads to disintegrate safely.

Israel deployed the previous version, Arrow II, more than a decade ago and says it has scored around a 90 percent success rate in live trials.

Israeli officials have predicted Arrow III could be deployed by next year. The Pentagon and US firm Boeing are partners in the Arrow project, which is overseen by state-run Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Arrow is the long-range segment in Israel's three-tier missile shield. This also includes the successfully deployed "Iron Dome", which targets short-range rockets and mortar bombs favoured by Palestinian guerrillas in Gaza, and the mid-range "David's Sling", still under development. They can be deployed alongside U.S. counterpart systems like the Aegis.

The United States and Israel have been developing Arrow jointly since 1988. Washington says helping Israel develop the capability to shoot down missiles will help prevent escalatory wars in the Middle East.

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