A new Israeli interceptor being developed in partnership with the United States to counter missiles held by Syria and Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hizbullah terrorists passed its second live trial on Wednesday, officials said.
David’s Sling, which Israeli officials say could be ready for deployment next year after an accelerated production schedule, is designed to shoot down missiles with ranges of between 63 miles and 125 miles.
It will bridge the Iron Dome short-range rocket interceptor and the Arrow ballistic missile interceptor, both already operational, to form a multi-level shield that the Israelis are developing with Washington’s help as a bulwark against Iran and its allies on the Israeli border.
David’s Sling downed a “short-range ballistic missile” in the morning trial in south Israel, the Defense Ministry said.
“The successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Davids Sling Weapon System and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat,” it said in a statement.
The interceptor underwent its first operational test a year ago. Also known as Magic Wand, David’s Sling is being manufactured jointly by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and U.S. firm Raytheon.
Rafael also makes Iron Dome, which downed around 85 percent of Palestinian rockets fired at Israeli towns during the Gaza war a year ago.
Like Iron Dome and Arrow, David’s Sling has drawn interest from prospective foreign clients, especially as it is also billed as being capable of intercepting cruise missiles.
Among potential customers have been at least two former Soviet satellite states in the Balkans which worry about possible future confrontations with Russia, their diplomats told Reuters on condition they would not be identified.
Of more immediate concern for Israel is the Hizbullah arsenal which it believes includes as many as 70,000 rockets and missiles.
David’s Sling, once fielded, could also block any ballistic missiles — such as Iran’s Shehabs or Syria’s Scuds — that might be launched at Israel and missed by Arrow in a future showdown.