Officials: David’s Sling Missile Defense System Ready for Action

This photograph provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defense on Monday Dec. 21, 2015 shows a launch of David's Sling missile defense system. David's Sling is intended to counter medium-range missiles possessed by enemies throughout the region, most notably the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah. The system also aims to protect against low-altitude cruise missiles fired from longer distances. (Ministry of Defense via AP)
This photograph provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defense on Monday, shows a launch of David’s Sling missile defense system. (Ministry of Defense via AP)

The David’s Sling interceptor systems are far more advanced than those used in Iron Dome. Unlike that system, used to counter short-range missile threats, David’s Sling can detect missiles even as they are being launched from enemy installations – and will be able to shoot down incoming missiles even before they leave the airspace of the launching country.

The system was built by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, together with U.S. defense firm Raytheon. The system’s The Radar was developed by Elta, a subsidiary of Israeli Aircraft Industries. The command and control system was developed by Elyisra, a subsidiary of Elbit.

David’s Sling is one of the “three pillars” of Israel’s missile defense system, together with Iron Dome and the Arrow, the former to deflect incoming short-range missiles like Kassam rockets, and the latter to shoot down long-range missiles fired at central Israel from afar. Both systems were used extensively, and with great success, during the 2014 Operation Defensive Edge campaign.

A David's Sling missle. Photo by Ministry of Defense/Flash90
A David’s Sling missile. (Ministry of Defense/Flash90)

The test comes amid soaring tensions between Israel and Hizbullah following the killing of one of its leading terrorists, Samir Kantar on Sunday. Hizbullah blamed Israel for the death, but as of now, Israel has not claimed responsibility. Three rockets fired from southern Lebanon struck northern Israel later Sunday, although it was unclear who fired them.

Several weeks ago, the Ministry of Defense said that it had conducted a successful test of the Arrow 3 missile, the newest iteration of the country’s missile shield against long-range ballistic missiles. The test was conducted in conjunction with the MDA, with which Israel has been working to develop the Arrow 3.

David’s Sling is designed to work in conjunction with the other systems, especially the Arrow 3, said Shlomo (last name withheld for security reasons), a senior member of Choma. Calling David’s Sling “a dream come true, on the verge of science fiction,” he stressed that Israel was the first and only country to develop such an advanced missile defense system. “Our people worked day and night to implement changes and improvements since the last tests. These missiles can take out incoming attacking rockets that contain hundreds of kilos of explosives of different types. We placed an emphasis on the navigation system, such that the explosions of these rockets will occur over the territory of the enemy that launched it,” he added.

According to Ramati, Iron Dome is very good at what it does, but David’s Sling is in another league altogether. “We will continue to develop the system an install new innovations that will help us to defend against current and future threats,” he added.

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