Skip to main content

Pentagon: Israel test-fires missile, U.S. helps

By CNN Staff
updated 11:52 AM EDT, Tue September 3, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: U.S. involvement in the test was "minor," Defense official says
  • Israel test-fired a Sparrow missile over the Mediterranean
  • The Pentagon says the test has "nothing to do" with any plans for Syria action

Editor's note: Are chemical weapons a 'red line'? Tell us what you think.

(CNN) -- Israel test-fired a missile Tuesday morning in the Mediterranean Sea with help from the United States, the Pentagon confirmed.

The test comes amid region-wide jitters over U.S. talk of possible military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The U.S. Defense Department confirmed that it "provided technical assistance and support" for Israel's missile test.

But Pentagon spokesman George Little said the "test had nothing to do with United States' consideration of military action to respond" to Syria's alleged chemical weapons attack last month.

Can Obama win over Congress on Syria?
U.S. warships in position to strike Syria

"The test was long planned to help evaluate the Arrow Ballistic Missile Defense system's ability to detect, track, and communicate information about a simulated threat to Israel. The United States and Israel cooperate on a number of long-term ballistic missile defense development projects to address common challenges in the region," Little said in a statement.

Military has concerns about Syria mission

A U.S. Defense official added that U.S. involvement in the test -- which was planned and scheduled for more than a year -- was minor. While the test was a joint program, the Americans provided advice on how to build the target missile, explained the official.

The test is part of the joint U.S.-Israeli Arrow program. The United States funded $75 million of it this year, with an additional $52 million to be provided in 2014.

The Israelis are building a third phase of Arrow with U.S. help. This will be a high-altitude ballistic missile defense system more specifically capable of defending Israeli from a long-range Iranian or Syrian missile attack.

Syria crisis: 20 questions to ask

Successful test, Israeli ministry says

The Israel Defense Ministry said the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency "completed a successful flight test of the new version of the Sparrow target missile."

"This is the first flight out test of this new version of the Sparrow, and was conducted at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea."

Opinion: The only road to peace in Syria

The missile launch occurred around 9:15 a.m., the defense ministry said.

"The Arrow weapon system's Super Green Pine radar successfully detected and tracked the target while transferring the information to the Citron Tree battle management control system. All the elements of the system performed according to their operational configuration," the ministry said.

The Defense Ministry said the main contractor for the integration and development of the Sparrow is Rafael, an Israeli company. The main contractor of the Arrow weapon system is MLM of the Israeli Aerospace Industries in conjunction with Boeing.

Arieh Herzog, former head of Israel's missile defense program, was present at the Israeli air force test facility in central Israel when the test was conducted. He said one missile was launched.

Israel was testing a new version of its Sparrow, air-launched, target missile. Basically, he said, it was a test of the new "target" for Israel's long-range defense system.

The missile simulated a real, incoming, long-range missile such as what the Iranians have developed with North Korea, Herzog said.

American personnel from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency watched the test but didn't launch it, Herzog said. The missile was air-launched by Israeli aircraft, he said.

Opinion: A U.S. strike would be self-wounding

Earlier, Russia announced that its early warning system detected the launch of two missiles in the sea. Russia's state-run news outlet RIA Novosti said the launch was detected Tuesday morning by radar in the southern Russian city of Armavir, citing a Defense Ministry spokesman.

"The targets' trajectories ran from the central to the eastern Mediterranean," RIA Novosti reported, citing the spokesman.

The targets fell into the sea, a diplomatic source in the Syrian capital of Damascus told RIA Novosti.

The news outlet later reported roles of Israel and the United States in the launches.

Syria: Every 15 seconds, a new refugee

CNN's Michael Schwartz and Barbara Starr contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 5:19 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What caught our experts' ears was as much about what he didn't address as much as what he did.
updated 6:19 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
The three-year war in Syria has claimed 162,402 lives, an opposition group said Monday, as the raging conflict shows no signs of abating.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Official: The U.S. believes a jihadi featured in a suicide bombing video in Syria is Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha who grew up in Florida.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
For the first time, Britain has convicted someone of a terrorism offense related to the Syrian civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT