TEL AVIV – An Israeli Defense Ministry official on Wednesday characterized a test conducted the previous day of the new Arrow-3 as a "no test," given that "conditions did not allow for" actual launch of the intercepting missile.
The test aimed to debut exo-atmospheric intercept capabilities of Arrow-3, a hit-to-kill missile jointly funded and managed by the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
But in its official account of the test, MoD did not mention test objectives or even refer to the Arrow-3 interceptor by name.
Instead, in a document labeled "Sucessfully," MoD informed reporters that an "Arrow target test" had been conducted, during which a target missile "was successfully launched and tracked by the Arrow weapon system."
In a background briefing to reporters here, the official attempted to clarify what was widely perceived as an incomplete and misleading account of the previous day's so-called success.
He said the test was divided into two parts, the first involving the system's ability to detect and track the air-launched target missile followed by actual target interception.
"In advance of the test, we determined with our test partners — the industry, the Americans, the [Israel] Air Force — what would be the conditions for transitioning from the first to the second phase," he said.
"The first part involving the target test was successful. And we notified as such. The part of the Arrow interceptor wasn't implemented because conditions did not allow for it.
"This is called a NO TEST; not a success and not a failure," he said.
Officially, MoD has not declared the Dec. 16 test a "no test" nor has it amended its earlier account of the event.
A MoD spokeswoman did not respond to repeated requests for clarification.
It marks MoD's second incomplete accounting of tests conducted as part of the ongoing US-Israel Arrow program.
In September, MoD was quick to brief foreign and Israeli press that results of a Sept. 9 test were "inconclusive." At the time, a senior MoD official lauded aspects of the test — such as the Arrow-2 launch, performance of its flight sequence and its ability to track the target missile — that had gone "perfectly as planned."
At the time, he said it would take days to analyze voluminous test data to determine the so-called "end game" and whether Arrow-2 actually struck its target.
But contrary to the high publicity generated on the day of that test, MoD refused to release final results of its Sept. 9 test.
Defense News was first to report on Sept. 17 that an extensive review of test data had determined that Arrow-2 had missed its target. ■