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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Israelis defend missile failure
An Arrow anti-ballistic missile interceptor at launch
Early versions of the missile were first deployed in 1991 against Iraqi scud missiles
Israeli military officials have defended a new anti-missile system they are developing jointly with the US, despite its failure in tests.

The Arrow-2 anti-ballistic missile failed to intercept a target missile designed to simulate attack by weapons of the type held by Iran and Syria.

The tests took place off the coast of Californian on Thursday.

The missile successfully identified its target, but the interception failed because of an unidentified fault.

Aryeh Herzog, the Israeli Defence Ministry official leading the Arrow project, said the testing could be seen as a success and only minor technical glitches needed to be corrected.

"The element of distinguishing was successful, and the element of final interception had a local malfunction in the Arrow missile," he said.

Thirteenth test

The Associated Press reports that this was the 13th interception test for the Arrow-2 and the eighth test of the complete weapons system. Officials have not said how many of the tests have been successful.

Last month, an Arrow successfully hit a missile launched from a platform on a military ocean range north-west of Los Angeles.

The Arrow system was developed in 1991, after Israel came under attack from Iraqi scud missiles during the Gulf war.

In Thursday's test, the Arrow was trying to hit a short-range, air-launched target.




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