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Israel used its Arrow-3 missile defense system for the first time on Thursday night after Israeli jets were targeted with Syrian anti-aircraft missiles during an operation over the war-torn country.
In a rare confirmation of Israel carrying out airstrikes in Syria, the IDF said on Friday morning that “several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria during the operation. One of the missiles was intercepted by the air defense systems of the IDF.”
A Reuters witness in the central Israeli city of Modiin reported hearing an explosion and a more distant bang was heard from as far away as Jerusalem.
Israeli journalists have posted photos and video of the wreckage of the anti-aircraft missile:
Thursday night after Israeli jets were targeted with Syrian anti-aircraft missiles during an operation over the war-torn country.
Israeli media are reporting that the Arrow intercepted an SA-5 surface-to-air missile, or SAM, and indeed it is logical that Syria’s air defense system launched against the intruding Israeli fighters in an attempt to down the planes. But given that the Israeli attack was hundreds of kilometers away from Israeli territory, why would Israel launch Arrow, which is intended to defend the homeland? The SA-15 or any other Syrian or even Russian SAM would not have posed a threat within Israel.
And in any case, Arrow is not designed to intercept SAMs. Such anti-air missiles are not part of the system’s database, which automatically tracks trajectories and predicts impact points of incoming ballistic missiles. Once fired, an SA-5 with its four strap-on boosters create five targets in the air, all of which appear as tumbling objects whose trajectories — unlike those of ballistic missiles — are practically impossible to predict.