Israel is likely the most high-profile customer to date that will use the Alaska Aerospace launch facility in Kodiak. A launch is on schedule for later this year, as Israel tests that nation’s advanced missile-defeating system.
The test was to be conducted last year but was delayed, according to the Jerusalem Post, due to a technical issue involving the communication system.
The launch of the Arrow-3 interceptor will test how it can defend Israel against long-range ballistic missiles, according to the newspaper. It can take out a nuclear warhead at high altitudes.
Although the date for the launch is a secret, a Must Read Alaska analysis of prior launches indicates it is likely to be in the early fall, rather than summer or winter.
Tensions in the region between Israel, Iran, and the border of Syria continue, even as the civil war in Syria appears to be coming to a close. Israel worries that Iran will establish military bases in Syria, for the purpose of launching nuclear weapons.
“The exercise, which is to be carried out in cooperation with the US Missile Defense Agency, was due to take place on the Alaskan island of Kodiak, where the system would have been tested against targets similar in behavior to advanced ballistic missiles being developed by Iran,” the Post wrote.
Moshe Patel, director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, alluded to the upcoming test during a panel at a pro-Israel conference in Washington D.C. in March.
“Arrow 3 is too big for the state of Israel, [to test locally]” Patel said, as quoted by Voice of America. “It is supposed to be good against nuclear threats that are coming from Iran. (But) we have limitations in our arena to conduct flight tests because of safety.”
In January, a dummy missile simulating a long-range ballistic missile was launched off the coast of Israel and was intercepted by an Arrow-3. Because of the daily commercial air traffic in the Mediterranean region, testing the Arrow-3 over the Pacific Ocean from the Alaska Aerospace Launch Facility makes more sense.
“This is the reason that, with a lot of help from the U.S. administration, Congress and of course, AIPAC, we succeeded to receive a budget to conduct a flight test in Alaska and the plan is to do it in the near future,” Patel said during the panel discussion.
CEO CRAIG CAMPBELL RETIRES
As Alaska Aerospace readies itself for the Arrow-3 interceptor launch, its longtime CEO Craig Campbell will be retiring at the end of this month. Campbell has been serving in a transition role after announcing his retirement last fall.
“Craig was instrumental in leading the transformation of Alaska Aerospace during some extremely tumultuous times,” stated Dr. Robert McCoy, chairman of the Alaska Aerospace Board of Directors.
Under Campbell’s leadership, the agency secured a multi-year, multi-launch contract with the Missile Defense Agency, which was established under the Reagan Administration.
The agency also conducted its first international operations, and it signed contracts with numerous small and commercial spaceports.
Campbell’s efforts led to federal infrastructure funding for the Pacific Spaceport facility to support the National Security Space Program; and returned Alaska Aerospace Corp. to profitability without state funding support.
“We are a much stronger company today, with a more secure future, because of Craig’s vision and leadership,” McCoy said.
Mark Lester, who joined Alaska Aerospace in October 2018 as President, is the interim interim chief executive officer. Read his bio here.