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Published: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 3:10:06 PM
Updated: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 3:10:06 PM

Israel says upgraded Arrow missile shield passes 2nd flight test

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel carried out a second successful test on Friday of its upgraded Arrow interceptor, which is designed to destroy in space the kind of missiles held by Iran and Syria, a Defence Ministry spokeswoman said.

The U.S.-backed Arrow III will deploy "kamikaze" satellites that track and slam into ballistic missiles above the earth's atmosphere, high enough to allow for any chemical, biological or nuclear warheads to disintegrate safely.

Friday's launch of an Arrow III interceptor missile over the Mediterranean sea was the second flight of the system, but did not involve the interception of any target. Israel deployed the previous version, Arrow II, more than a decade ago and says it has scored around a 90 percent success rate in live trials.

Israeli officials have predicted Arrow III could be deployed by next year. The Pentagon and U.S. firm Boeing are partners in the Arrow project, which is overseen by state-run Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Arrow is the long-range segment in Israel's three-tier missile shield. This also includes the successfully deployed "Iron Dome", which targets short-range rockets and mortar bombs favoured by Palestinian guerrillas in Gaza, and the mid-range "David's Sling", still under development. They can be deployed alongside U.S. counterpart systems like the Aegis.

The United States and Israel have been developing Arrow jointly since 1988. Washington says helping Israel develop the capability to shoot down missiles will help prevent escalatory wars in the Middle East.

(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Patrick Graham)

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