An anti-ballistic missile under development by the United States and Israel intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile during a test Thursday off the California coast, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.
The intercept over the Point Mugu Sea Range was conducted as a test of an improved version of the Arrow missile, the agency said. Point Mugu is 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
“The objective of the test was to demonstrate the Arrow system’s improved performance against a target that represents a threat to Israel. The test represented a realistic scenario that could not have been tested in Israel due to test-field safety restrictions,” the agency said in a press release.
It was the 12th Arrow intercept test and the seventh test of the complete Arrow system, which includes radar and communications equipment as well as the missile.
Missile Defense Agency spokesman Chris Taylor said he could not say how many of the intercept tests have been successful.
Israel deployed the Arrow antimissile system after the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel.
Asked if the target missile was a Scud, Taylor would describe it only as “a short-range target representative of a threat Israel might encounter.”
Taylor said the target missile was launched from a platform at sea and the interceptor was launched from San Nicolas Island, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) southwest of the Los Angeles coastline.
The intercept occurred about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west-southwest of San Nicolas, Taylor said. He did not release details of the altitude at which the intercept occurred.
In an interview with Israel TV, Israeli defense ministry official Ariyeh Hertzog described the test as “the first attempt against a target which represents the real threat.”
“It was a perfect trial, from the point of view of acquiring the target and destroying it,” he said from California.