Israel completes final tests for ‘David’s Sling’ missile defense system

Published December 21st, 2015 - 01:00 GMT

Israel's Defense Ministry and the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency completed on Monday the last phase of trials for the David's Sling air defense system, and the Israel Air Force is expected to take possession of the system in the first quarter of 2016.

The trials occurred in recent days in southern Israel, and were led by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which is developing David's Sling, together with the US defense company Raytheon.

David’s Sling can intercept short-range to medium-range rockets and ballistic missiles, including guided projectiles, cruise missiles, aircraft, and drones. Its range of coverage means it can destroy incoming threats over enemy territory, away from Israeli skies.

"In trials, the system's capabilities were tested in a number of scenarios that simulate the threats it was designed to deal with.

Target missiles were fired, which were detected by a multi-mission radar. The radar transmitted the coordinates to a fire control center, that calculated defense counter-plans. David's Sling interceptors were successfully fired, and carried out all of the flight stages, destroying the targets as planned," the Defense Ministry said.

Yair Ramiti, head of Homa, said multiple mock targets were hit in the trial. The successful trials will "enable us to go to the next stage of development. This weapons system is ripe and ready. The result is excellent. We have an efficient, fast, deadly missile," he added.

Shlomo S. (full name withheld), head of the David's Sling program in Rafael, added, "This is first time technology of this kind has been used. It is on the verge of science fiction." The officials added that a core unit from from the air defense branch of the IAF is being trained to use the system, and took part in the latest trial.

"The emphasis is on guided, maneuvering threats carrying dozens of kilograms of warheads, which are highly destructive," Shlomo said.

The system has entered the production stage.

David's Sling will be based in two national sites, and its launch sites will be mobile.

The system was described by defense officials on Monday as "new and revolutionary in the family of interceptors in the world," enabling greater efficiency in dealing with aerial threats, as part of a multi-layered defense coverage that includes Iron Dome, Arrow 2, and Arrow 3 air defense batteries.

David's Sling multi-mission radar was developed by ELTA, an IAI subsidiary, and its fire control station, dubbed Golden Almond, was built by Elisra, a part of Elbit Systems.

Earlier this month, Israel carried out a landmark successful interception of a target in space using its Arrow-3 missile defense system on Thursday, amid reports of advances by Iran in its long-range ballistic missile program.

The Defense Ministry’s Missile Defense Organization, which worked with the American Missile Defense Agency on the project, launched an Arrow-3 interceptor from a military installation in central Israel earlier this month, after the system’s radar and fire control station detected a target in space, which represented an incoming ballistic missile.

A Sparrow-type target fired from an Israeli fighter aircraft flying off the Mediterranean coast went into space, where it released two targets for Arrow-3’s radars to lock onto. Once outside the atmosphere, the Arrow-3 missile released a kill vehicle, which deployed its own sensor, and guided itself for a direct collision with the target.

By Yaakov Lappin

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