Arrow 3 as one of the key components of the European Sky Shield Initiative
One of the responses of European countries to the ongoing war in Ukraine is the creation of a common robust, multi-layered air defence. This idea, which Germany introduced to its NATO allies last October, was supported by a total of 15 countries. The idea of a comprehensive European air defence is called the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI). The aim is to jointly purchase short, medium and long-range air defence assets that will serve as protection against a possible Russian missile attack. Three specific systems are to be procured under the ESSI: the German IRIS-T, the American Patriot and the Israeli Arrow 3.
A total of 15 countries spoke in favour of the creation of a common "European" CSDP solution during the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers on 13 October 2022. Specifically, Germany, which is also the initiator of this plan, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. This year, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden have joined these countries.
As German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in the context of the ESSI project, ESSI will significantly increase the level of air defence on the European continent and is also cheaper than if each country were to build its own comprehensive air defence system. The ESSI should result in sufficient protection against possible Russian attacks, especially against Russian missiles of various types. The European air and missile defence shield is to be made up of the German-origin IRIS-T short-range system, the American Patriot system and the Israeli Arrow 3. The German Arrow 3 system will also be integrated into the ESSI structures. Deliveries of the first launchers are estimated for 2025.
Arrow 3 protects the people of Israel
The Arrow 3 air and missile defence suite was developed by the Israeli state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries in cooperation with the American Boeing company. The advantage of this system is that, with an operational range of 2 400 kilometres and the ability to destroy targets up to 100 kilometres high, it can intercept and destroy long-range missiles in the initial phase of flight, before they begin their descent from space back into the atmosphere. According to some reports, Arrow 3 can also be used to destroy enemy satellites. Thanks to its open architecture, Arrow 3 is also interoperable with other air defence systems and can operate in automated and semi-autonomous human-in-the-loop mode. This semi-autonomous mode allows the system to operate autonomously, with human intervention at any time. In terms of armament, one Arrow 3 launcher can hold up to six missiles.
The Arrow 3 was introduced into the Israeli Air Force's arsenal in 2017 and is now actively involved in protecting the lives of Israeli residents against Hamas terrorists and their allies. Just a few days ago, the Arrow 3 system successfully disabled a long-range surface-to-surface missile that was likely fired at the Jewish state by members of Yemen's Shiite Ansar Allah rebel movement. This is the first successful operational deployment of the Arrow 3 system. This information was confirmed by IAI, the company that manufactures the Arrow 3 system. According to the Israel Defense Forces, an older Arrow 2 kit was also involved in the protection of Israel, disabling a long-range rocket fired by Hamas. According to available information, the missile was believed to be an Ayyash-250, the largest missile in the terrorist movement's arsenal with a range of up to 250 kilometers. Thus, in a short space of time, the Arrow family's systems proved their worth and saved the lives of innocent Israelis. In addition to the Arrow systems, IAI also produces the BARAK-MX advanced short-range anti-missile kit, which recently won a tender in Slovakia.