Joshua Mitnick reports that Israel and the U.S. carried out a missile test over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday morning that was detected by Russian surveillance systems. Israel’s defense ministry eventually said a Sparrow rocket had been fired to simulate a ballistic missile attack on the Jewish state to test the Arrow interceptor system.
The Arrow – which wasn’t fired Tuesday – has been developed to defend against long range rockets primarily from Iran, a main patron of the Syrian regime. Arieh Herzog, a former Israeli missile defense director, says that the Sparrow missile is developed to simulate ‘the worst threats’ in the region so Israel can hone the capabilities of the Arrow III missile interceptor.
Herzog speculated that the launch Tuesday was done at a considerably long range. Another Israeli expert said the incident could be seen as muscle flexing by the U.S. and Israel. ‘You could say perhaps its show of strength to Syria and its Iranian ally — that Israel has a range of options at its disposal. And to place pressure on Assad and Iran that Israel takes [retaliation threats] seriously,’ says Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. Pentagon press secretary George Little said the U.S. ‘provided technical assistance and support to the Israeli Missile Defense Organization flight test of a Sparrow target missile over the Mediterranean Sea.’
‘The United States and Israel cooperate on a number of long-term ballistic missile defense development projects to address common challenges in the region,’ added Little. ‘This test had nothing to do with United States consideration of military action to respond to Syria’s chemical weapons attack.’
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