Scientists and defense experts involved in the production of a missile intended to destroy incoming rockets said this week that they expect a preliminary version of the system to be operational within two years.
They added that the Arrow anti-missile system will be fully operational by the end of the decade, offering Israel a “significant defense capability” at that time.
Speaking at a briefing this week for military reporters, Defense Ministry officials estimated the total cost of the program through the year 2005 to be $1.1 billion.
The Arrow system is being co-funded by the United States, which has to date provided more than $450 million of the project’s cost.
Israel, which began developing the Arrow in 1988 with the United States, will reportedly assume the bulk of the project’s future costs.
The first tests of the prototype Arrow missile were performed in August 1990.
Since then, there have been eight more tests, including two with the latest Arrow-2 model.
Israeli military experts have cited the country’s need for a dependable anti- missile system. Their arguments found added strength after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when Iraqi Scuds struck Israeli cities.
The American-built Patriot missiles used at the time have been widely criticized as flawed and ineffective.