Israel successfully tests Arrow 3 missile interceptor

image captionArrow 3 will extend Israel's multi-layered missile defence shield

Israel's defence ministry says it has carried out a successful test of its new missile interceptor system.

Arrow 3 detects an incoming missile, intercepts it and destroys it with a second missile above the earth's atmosphere.

Officials said the cutting-edge system had been designed to defend Israel from the threat of a strike from Iran.

Monday's test was conducted alongside US forces and is the first time the system has been tested.

Israel already has the Iron Dome missile defence system, which - officials say - intercepted up to 85% of missiles fired from Gaza towards populated areas during the conflict in November 2012.

Defence officials say that because the system will be able to shoot down missiles in space, it could cause nuclear and chemical warheads to disintegrate safely.

An official said it was "the first time the interceptor with all of its equipment took off and flew, achieved the velocities, and did the manoeuvres in space".

He said a full interception would be tested in future but would not say when. The official also declined to say when the system would be fully implemented.

Arrow 3 will form part of Israel's multi-layered defence shield.

Iron Dome

During the recent Gaza conflict, the Israeli defence ministry claimed the first layer of that shield - the Iron Dome - knocked down 421 of 1,354 short-range missiles fired from Gaza.

Of those that landed, 58 hit urban areas while the rest fell in open fields, causing no damage.

Monday's test at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean had nothing to do with growing regional tension, a defence official said.

"In terms of long-term strength and the whole threat that we see of the ballistic Shahab missiles and other types of missiles from Iran, this is a main factor why we developed it and deployed it," he said.

"But the date of the test is nothing to do with what's going on."

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