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Israel Intercepts Ballistic Missile in Space, a Military First

Israel Intercepts Ballistic Missile in Space, a Military First

In historic first, Israel intercepts ballistic missile launched from Yemen by Iran-backed Houthi rebels

In what appears to be a first in military history, on October 30th Israel intercepted a ballistic missile, in space, fired at Israel from Yemen.

From Breaking Defense:  In first, Israel’s Arrow air defense system intercepts ballistic missile near Red Sea: IDF:

Israel’s Arrow air defense system for the first time intercepted a ballistic missile today, in an attempted strike believed to have been launched from Yemen.

The Israeli Defense Forces said the interception was the first operational use of the Arrow system since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, and that it “thwarted an aerial threat in the area of the Red Sea.” The IDF later said the missile was fired toward Israel but was intercepted before it could reach its target.

“All aerial threats were intercepted outside of Israeli territory. No infiltrations were identified into Israeli territory,” the IDF said.

Though the IDF did not say who responsible for the missile, the Houthi armed group reportedly claimed responsibility, and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused the Houthis of a similar attack last week. An Oct. 28 would-be strike using drones and missiles, attributed to the Houthis, was intercepted by fire from a US naval ship.

Although the Iron Dome seems to get all the press, the Arrow missile defense system is Israel’s top tier of missile defense:

Though today marks Arrow’s first operational intercept of a ballistic missile, its first operational use came back in 2017 when it intercepted a surface-to-air missile fired from Syria. The Arrow program provides Israel with the upper tier of its multi-layered air defense system, together with David’s Sling and Iron Dome.

Israel Aerospace Industries, the lead Israeli contractor on the Arrow, praised the IDF for the successful interception.
“The Arrow is an advanced air defense system created and designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere,” IAI said. It noted that the system was developed by Israel and the Missile Defense Agency in the US.

“The Arrow system […] demonstrated today that Israel possesses the most advanced technology for defense against ballistic missiles at various ranges,” CEO and President of the IAI, Boaz Levy, said.

For a great video explaining the Arrow’s “exoatmospheric” capabilities, with superb graphics, check this out:

Although the Houthis are about 1,000 miles away from Israel, and seemingly out of the picture, that is apparently not the case:

The Houthis in Yemen are more than a 1,000 miles from Israel, but the group has shown it is capable of long-range strikes.

On October 29 the pro-Iranian Al-Mayadeen media reported that the Houthi leadership had threatened Israel due to operations in Gaza and also viewed the current conflict in the region as one in which the US and Israel were working together.

Israel’s IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, referring to the Houthi threat, said on the evening of October 31 that Israel knows how to protect itself and protect its interests. He said that despite the threats, Israel was concentrated on the conflict against Hamas and would not be distracted by the incident, but could act in the future at a time and place of its choosing.

U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean might also provide Israel with some missile defense capability, but due to positioning it is speculated that they might not be as effective as the Arrow system, as the Jerusalem Post reported:

While the US naval forces in the region might also be able to shoot down ballistic missiles targeting Israel, that ability might depend on the trajectory of the missile, whereas the Arrow shield is positioned in a different way and has more versatile capabilities to shoot down ballistic missiles.

This is a positive development for Israel:

So the good news…is that Israel can now present to Iran and the rest of the region that it has a fully operational missile defense against ballistic missiles.

In 2022, then-US CENTCOM chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said that Iran had over 3,000 ballistic missiles, not counting its increasing number of cruise missiles.

Only a portion of these can reach Israel, but the point is that since the 1990s, the Islamic Republic has had weapons that could reach Israel, and while Jerusalem hoped that its Arrow missile shield would hold up, it had never been fully tested….

[T]here is nothing like actually shooting down a high-quality ballistic missile threat with all of the real stress of an operational situation.

And Israel managed to do this despite juggling threats on multiple other fronts: the South, the North, and ongoing in the West Bank.

From this perspective, the Arrow’s success is a new message to Tehran that neither it nor its proxies can easily harm Israel, even with their most sophisticated long-range weapons.

This boosts the Jewish state at a critical time when there are still questions about whether it can topple Hamas if it must compete with other regional distractions.

We will keep you updated on this important military development.


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Louis K. Bonham | November 9, 2023 at 4:30 pm

Bravo for Israel!

But seeing this, I’m immediately thinking:

Israel intercepted a ballistic missile in space. Threat destroyed.

When Hamas went ballistic Israel intercepted them in Gaza. No ceasefire until they are destroyed.

Intercepting a ballistic missile in space is the technically easiest place. You know where it’s going to be and when. Nike-Zeus was doing it in the very early 60s with, I happen to know, a 21-bit fixed point computer.

    Louis K. Bonham in reply to rhhardin. | November 9, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    It’s one thing to get a missile in the same general area as another and then detonate a 400 KT nuclear warhead with a blast radius measured in miles, which is what the Nike-Zeus missile did.

    Quite another to get close enough to take out an incoming missile with a relatively small HE warhead.

      Today’s computers are faster and more accurate by, I don’t know, a factor of ten thousand, so misses that much smaller, as to difficulty.

      alaskabob in reply to Louis K. Bonham. | November 9, 2023 at 5:11 pm

      True. The US demonstrated this with an F-15 launched anti-satellite rocket years ago…. A key is high altitude launch to forego the initial boost phase…. It is a great achievement for Israel. As for “Iran-backed”…. ah…. Iran supplied in this case. By the way, Iran container ship launches are an EMP away…

      JohnSmith100 in reply to Louis K. Bonham. | November 9, 2023 at 10:40 pm

      I am concerned about debris in orbit, but am always impressed by Israel.

      Also, I revisited the issue of water reservoirs in Iran, it appears that there are 600-700. Iran is suffering from a long drought. Gee, what a great way to really trim their wings.

        No worries.. any of that space junk would burn up to atoms upin reentry.

        DaveGinOly in reply to JohnSmith100. | November 10, 2023 at 9:07 pm

        Neither the incoming missile not the outgoing interceptor are on trajectories that would result in orbits (and the incoming missile probably doesn’t go fast enough to achieve orbit). Therefore, the debris can’t enter orbit and will simply fall back to earth (although the interceptor may be traveling at escape velocity, so parts of it may go flying out into space if they retain sufficient energy after impact).

      DaveGinOly in reply to Louis K. Bonham. | November 10, 2023 at 9:02 pm

      The Arrow is a kinetic-kill system. It actually hits the target to destroy it. There seems to be no warhead, just an impactor.

    Concise in reply to rhhardin. | November 10, 2023 at 12:34 pm

    At first I thought you were talking about the Greek god and was confused because I thought he used thunder bolts.

    Tionico in reply to rhhardin. | November 10, 2023 at 5:30 pm

    Hah!! My Dad worked on that project when it was being developed.

johnny dollar | November 9, 2023 at 5:31 pm

The ballistic missile was obviously supplied by Iran. The Houthis probably couldn’t build such a device.
This is a dangerous new phase in the conflict.
I think it likely that Israel, and/or the US, are going to lash out at Iran fairly soon.
I remember when all the liberal commentators derided Ronald Reagan’s Missile Defense proposal as being technologically impossible.
They all said “It is impossible to hit a bullet with a bullet”.
Israel said “Hold my beer…”

    Louis K. Bonham in reply to johnny dollar. | November 9, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    The US or Israel could take out the Kharg Island and Jask terminals quite easily (submarine launched cruise missiles would do the job nicely). Put those out of commission, and the Iranian economy grinds to a halt.

    But would Biden ever give the order? Nope.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to johnny dollar. | November 9, 2023 at 10:41 pm

    Iran has been asking for an ass whooping since 1979.

Since Iran is supplying missiles to the rebels, all without formal acknowledgment, it seems to me that Israel could destroy the launch sites, kill the rebels, and kill any Iranians they happen to find in the vicinity all without formal acknowledgment. Bloody-minded, yes, but I bet the Houthis would learn to lay low.

My first thought when reading this was amazement that the Yemenis had anything in their arsenal that could achieve “space.”

These are the same Houthis whom the Saudis were fighting effectively until the Western left got all horrified at their tactics and “human rights abuses” and the USA pulled the rug out from under them.

Fake news. SDI will never work.

Right here in a History Channel headline from 2019- Why Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ Defense Plan Remained Science Fiction. It’s science fiction, not rel.

From a University of Georgia abstract: Widely derided as an impossibility from the outset, to speak of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is to invoke the image of a haphazard executive whose ill-conceived faith in technological salvation heralded the beginning of a final, dangerous phase of interstate competition. It’s an impossibility!

And further, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1988 said – IT’S IMMORAL TO DEVELOP SDI! After
careful consideration of these questions, the bishops’ committee
concluded that, while some of the officially stated objectives of the
SDI program correspond to important themes of their 1983 pastoral
on war and peace, proposals to press its deployment do not measure
up to key moral criteria.

It can’t work, it’s immoral to develop, so these stories of Iron Dome intercepting all kinds of missiles and now intercepting missiles in space must be fake news.

I would recommend, and strongly favour, Israel making a change to their SOP’s.

Next time they have cause to launch a missile to take out an enemy launched one, simultaneously launch a second missile aimed carefully and precisely at the origin of the one they want to destroy. that would be the first time.

Next time launch TWO offensive ones in addition to the tactical one.

See how long it takes the gears to churn under the rags on their heads before they realise it won’t be long before they HAVE no place from which to launch their mayhem.

That’s a great idea. And launch a third one to fly into Khameni’s bedroom window.