U.S. Halts Arrow Launch Test

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JERUSALEM, Israel - U.S. defense officials aborted a test launch of Israel's Arrow II anti-ballistic missile defense system early Thursday morning, the fourth cancellation in a week.

The launch was set to take place from a U.S. military missile range off the coast of California.

U.S. officials cancelled the three previous tests because of inclement weather, which included hurricane warnings, as well as some technical problems.

Pentagon officials blamed Thursday's cancellation on a communications failure between the control room and the missile launcher, after a C-17 transport plane had launched a dummy Iranian Shihab missile from 80,000 feet.

"Not all test conditions to launch the Arrow Interceptor were met, and it was not launched," the Pentagon said, noting that results from the objectives that had been achieved would be analyzed.

In April, Israel successfully tested an upgraded Arrow II missile system, using the new X-band radar and a new command and control system.

An Israeli defense official said the IAF (Israel Air Force) would probably have completed the test despite the communications glitch.

"After the target was launched, the Arrow weapons system went into action," the official said.

"The radar spotted the target and transferred the data to the shooting management center, which calculated a defense plan against it," he said.

"The Americans want everything to work 100 percent. It could be that the distance between the control room and the launcher was the problem," the official said.

The Arrow, designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles from Syria and Iran, is deployed at two sites in Israel.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Ynet news

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