Strategic Weapons: Blue Sparrow Does Everything

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April 19,2008: Israel recently successfully tested its new Blue Sparrow missile warhead simulator. This is a rocket, launched from an aircraft, that looks, to radar, like the warhead from a long range Iranian ballistic missile. Back in the late 1990s, Israel developed the Black Sparrow missile, that could simulate a ballistic missile warhead. Basically it's a 15 foot long, one ton rocket carried to a high altitude by an F-15 and fired. The Black Sparrow hits about the same high altitude as the actual ballistic missile, and then plunges back to earth in the same manner (angle and speed). This enables Israel to test its Arrow anti-missile systems (especially the radar). Black Sparrow was designed to simulate incoming Scud (short range) ballistic missiles. Unlike Scuds (with a range of up to 300 kilometers), Iranian ICBMs have a range of about 1,800 kilometers. The longer the range of a ballistic missile, the faster it reenters the atmosphere. So Blue Sparrow has been modified for that, as well as addition better guidance and simulation of chemical warheads.

Blue Sparrow can be further modified to enable it to launch small satellites (of under a hundred pounds). With advances in microelectronics, such small satellites can be useful in wartime. Blue Sparrow can also be modified to knock down low orbit recon satellites. The Israeli manufacturer has joined with a U.S. firm (Raytheon) to market Blue Sparrow in the United States.

 


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