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The BPI as an Alternative

Reuven Pedatzur

Policy Paper No. 33, From the books:

Ballistic Missiles
The Threat and
the Response

Arieh Stav (ed.),
ACPR Publishers and
Yediot Aharonot (Hebrew), 1998
ACPR Publishers and
Brassey's (UK) Ltd. (English),

The Threat of Ballistic Missiles in the
Middle East:
Active Defense and

Arieh Stav (ed.),
Sussex Academic Press and
ACPR Publishers, 2004


A major defect in active defense systems is that the intercepted warhead or its contents may descend onto the defender, (even if hit 70-100 km. away as by the Arrow). This makes the defender particularly vulnerable in the case of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Punctured warheads, sub-munitions or cluster weapons would still be lethal due to the danger of the dispersal of unconventional materials over the area of the defender. It will be a fatal strategic failure to attempt to defend Israel using an active defense system against nuclear missiles. This is because the cost of a nuclear missile hit in or over the Dan bloc, for example, is totally unacceptable in Israeli terms. Therefore, the only relevant form of active defense is that which is hermetically sealed. The Arrow system, typically of its type, will be very far from hermetically sealing against penetration attempts made by attacking missiles. This type of deployment may even suggest a willingness to countenance a nuclear attack. The defense against ballistic missiles can fail. The defender cannot anticipate all the details of the possibilities of counter measures and of battlefield conditions. Some of these will be beyond the capability of the defense system, even if the defender knows in advance which counter measures exist.

Boost Phase Intercept advantages are pronounced: at this stage the attacking missile represents a very big, slow target, lacking maneuvering capability with a very large heat signature: easy to locate, track, lock-on to and destroy permitting the use of less advanced technologies than those still to be developed to solve the operational problems involved in interception at the final entry stage. It is possible to develop the BPI system based on existing technologies, and improve them.

Considering the choice between various defense systems against ballistic missiles, operational, strategic and even economic logic requires going in the direction of the BPI instead of investing in active defense systems which attempt to intercept the attacking missile during the re-entry (terminal) phase of the flight.

For the complete text of this article in Hebrew, click here.