“So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” (I Samuel 17:50)
David’s Sling, a new air defense system developed under the auspices of the IDF, has passed its final round of tests and is slated for deployment in 2016, said the Defense Ministry on Monday.
The new system is designed to catch longer-range rockets that are not targeted by the Iron Dome, which shoots down short-range missiles, or by the Arrow, which intercepts ballistic missiles. David’s Sling will have the ability to target rockets with ranges of 100 to 200 km (63 to 125 miles), aircraft, guided projectiles, low-flying cruise missiles, and drones.
The final test took place Monday morning in a test field in southern Israel, and David’s Sling passed all markers. The system will be delivered to the Israel Air Force (IAF) within the next four months. A core unit of the IAF, which is being trained on how to operate the system, took part in the Monday test.
“In trials, the system’s capabilities were tested in a number of scenarios that simulate the threats it was designed to deal with,” said officials at the Defense Ministry, and David’s Sling destroyed the targets as intended.
Between the three systems, the IAF supports a network of interceptors guided by radar which can shoot down anything from shorter-range, low-flying rockets sent from Hezbollah and Hamas to longer-range ballistic Shehab and Scud missiles fired from Iran and Syria.
Initially, the IDF will deploy four David’s Sling batteries, sending two to the IAF in the first stage. The system is versatile in how it operates: David’s Sling can be installed in a permanent location, like the Arrow defense system, or moved around to wherever it is needed, like the Iron Dome system. It can work together with the other two systems, or independently of them.
According to the Defense Ministry, the system will be capable of identifying and intercepting missiles carrying warheads of up to hundreds of kilograms of explosives.
Shlomo S., who headed the project under the Israeli defense firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, said that the capacities of the system approach the realm of science fiction. “We’re excited this morning after the completion of the series of tests, during which we developed technologies that are first of their kind in the world and have so far been considered science fiction,” he said, according to Ynet.
Rafael, a state-owned technology firm, developed and manufactured David’s Sling with the collaboration of US arms maker Raytheon Co. Rafael also produces the Iron Dome, the Israeli mobile air defense system renowned worldwide for its accuracy and effectiveness. Foreign governments have clamored to buy the Iron Dome technology, and clients are already expressing interest in David’s Sling as well.
Israel’s air defense abilities are among the most advanced in the world, as proven by a test last week in which Israel successfully intercepted a target in space using its upgraded Arrow 3 missile defense system.