The Arrow 3 debacle

The Arrow 3 missile

Last week Israeli defence officials announced that production of the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system was being stepped up in the light of Iran’s aggressive posturing regarding its nuclear program.

With Iran’s nuclear program in mind, Israel is stepping up development of anti-missile technology, Col. Aviram Hasson, the head of the Arrow 3 project, said Monday.

“Today we are thinking mainly about the nuclear threat, and that is why we are speeding up the development of the Arrow 3 interceptor as much as possible. We would like to see it ready by the time the threat materializes,” Hasson, the head of the high-altitude systems development department in the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization, said at a conference entitled “Aerial Threats in the Modern Age” at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

“We would like for Israel to have a near complete layer of defense for any future or current threat,” Hasson said, adding that the defense establishment was also working on a system meant to protect aircraft in the vicinity of the interception point.

“When the system logs onto the aerial image, [the missile] will know where each aircraft is situated and ‘slalom’ around without hitting any aircraft. Maximum protection with minimum disruption,” he said.

During the conference, Hasson revealed that the Arrow 3 system, built to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles in outer space, could be operated over countries that do not share borders with Israel, including Iran.

Defense experts regarded Hasson’s lecture as the first confirmation by an Israeli official that the Arrow 3 is capable of intercepting projectiles from a non-bordering country.

Imagine then Israel’s shock and outrage when the Americans spilled a huge amount of highly secret material about the Arrow 3 system:

The US government has publicized classified information detailing the location, design and specifications of a launch site to be built from this summer for Israel’s new Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system. The details, apparently spilled in error, appear to include highly sensitive information relevant to the struggle against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The material specifies, for instance, that the launch site must be completed by the end of next year, by which time, it says, Israel expects to have the Arrow 3 — a missile defense system crucial to Israel’s plans for countering an Iranian nuclear threat — operational.

[...]

News of the leak came as the Israeli official who oversees the Arrow 3 project revealed on Monday that Israel is speeding up the missile system’s development because of “the nuclear threat.”

The details were revealed, apparently inadvertently, in a tender issued by the US Federal Business Opportunities website inviting bids from American defense contractors to build the $25 million installation. The tender contains over 1,500 pages of information, and includes classified information specifying that the launch site will be built at what it says is the Israeli Air Force base at Tal Shahar. It features diagrams showing four concrete-hardened launchers, each designed to hold six rockets.

The tender also includes data on the underground depth of the launchers and the thickness of the concrete protection for the launchers, which is to be reinforced with steel mesh. The specifications also call for steel doors to protect against potential blast damage.

The faux pas was originally highlighted by Jane’s Defence Weekly, an established and widely cited military publication. Jane’s notes that while the spilled information does not name the missile system for which launch site is being built, it is “almost certainly for the new Arrow 3.”

Jane’s further reports that the Tal Shahar facility is already “the location of the IAF’s third Arrow 2 battery, which became operational in 2012.”

[...]

In detailing the specifics of the launch site’s protection, Jane’s also quotes the tender as noting that “the electrical components will be protected against the electro-magnetic pulse produced by a nuclear detonation.”

Ruthie Blum in a blistering article in Israel Hayom blasts the inept Obama Administration for their almost criminal negligence in revealing Israel’s military secrets:

For all its ineptitude, the Obama administration has proved itself capable of closing ranks where lies and cover-ups are concerned. The three major scandals in which it is currently embroiled — Benghazi, the Justice Department, and the Internal Revenue Service — are the major cases in point. But other examples abound.

Such fiascoes aside, Israel has been counting on Washington’s penchant for the “covert” these days, as Iran sails toward nuclear armament and the rest of the Middle East is in the throes of radicalization. Though U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry keeps making trips to the region to pressure Israel and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate a two-state solution, the assumption on the part of those who believe that the White House “has Israel’s back” is that there is much behind-the-scenes military cooperation going on that we don’t know about.

Imagine Israel’s dismay, then, when Uncle Sam pulled a stunt of truth and transparency this week at the worst possible juncture for the Jewish state.

As was reported by McClatchy’s Sheera Frenkel on Monday, the Israeli defense establishment is in an uproar over U.S. government revelations of an American-Israeli project that was supposed to be kept top-secret.

Israel’s outrage is warranted.

[...]

Details of the installation, whose cost is estimated at $25 million, were posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website to attract bidding contractors — a process called “routine” by Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Wesley Miller.

Routine or not, it was unthinkable for the U.S. Defense Department to publicize more than 1,000 pages of the most minute details of a system whose success rests, among other things, on being totally hidden from enemy eyes.

So much for all that encouraging “behind-the-scenes” activity ostensibly indicating that U.S. President Barack Obama will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself against attack.

So long to Israel’s plan to speed up construction of the installation — originally set to become operational by 2016 — to counter dangerous developments in Iran.

[...]

In February of this year, it was tested successfully from a launching pad in the center of Israel, taking off over the Mediterranean. But now that so many of its specifications have been made public, it is unlikely to become operational in time to stave off Iranian missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.

[...]

Under the current circumstances, extreme caution is justified, though gas-mask kits are hardly the answer. Experience has taught us that they are mainly effective at frightening young children and smothering the elderly, while creating the illusion of control and protection.

This is precisely the illusion that the Obama administration has created. But it is neither in control of the Middle East nor providing Israel with protection. The Arrow 3 debacle is simply further confirmation of this.

I haven’t heard of an apology from the Obama Administration for this unconscionable leak of vital military secrets. Correct me if I’m mistaken – I’ll be glad to be proven wrong.

Can you imagine the uproar and international condemnations that we would be hearing if the tables were turned, and it was Israel who inadvertently leaked American secrets? Which brings to mind the cruel and inhuman punishment of Jonathan Pollard, sentenced to life without parole for the crime of providing information to an ally, information which should have been provided by the US authorities themselves.

In fact as some commenters on the Times of Israel article said:

Jonathan Pollard has spent almost 28 years in prison for less than this.

and

will those responsible for making this information available to the enemies of the USA and Israel get a life without parole sentence , as did Pollard who NEVER revealed any secrets to any of the enemies of the USA or Israel.

and

Whereas, Pollard revealed classified information to a friendly state, the USA’s aid the enemy.

Indeed. Will any punishment at all be meted out to the fool (or the traitor) who revealed Israel’s secrets?

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4 Responses to The Arrow 3 debacle

  1. ealha3 says:

    It should be elemental that because America has an administration led by stupidity, ignorance and unaccountable incompetence, anything adverse to anyone or any nation dealing with the U.S. is possible. This gives new meaning to the term “caveat emptor.” At the same time, any adversary relying on the disclosed information, relies on it at its peril. Israel is wise enough to make such information now, dis-information and hopefully, create a new set of classified information realizing it is only as secure as its weakest link, which, unfortunately remains to be the Obama administration. It appears to be, that if Israel survives the Iranian threat, it will not be due to so much because of the Obama administration, but in spite of it.

    • anneinpt says:

      I hope you’re not being too optimistic in assessing Israel’s disinformation capabilities. I get the impression that this leak came right out of left field for the Israeli security establishment. They were not expecting it at all.

  2. Reality says:

    I sincerely hope that we get hold of (capture) someone in the American administration & throw him in jail & chuck away the key . Then in 30 plus years time we’ll think about parole. Preferably they should arrest Obama or his underlings. Could we put out an arrest warrant that if they step foot in Israel they’ll be arrested for spying? Just like the Brits did to our politicians

    • anneinpt says:

      Israel has indeed captured American spies not so long ago, but like the politically-correct idiots that we are, we simply expelled them rather than keeping them as bargaining chips for Pollard.

      There’s no way Obama will be arrested. I’m not even sure he’s the right address. He seems incompetent enough that even if this debacle was technically his fault, I wonder if he knew about it.

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