Israel’s David’s Sling weapon system for air and missile defense recently completed its third test series (DST-3), performing successful intercepts of targets representing relevant threats: missiles and rockets of different sizes, fired from medium and long ranges, and flying at low, medium and high altitudes.

The system will be ready for operational deployment following the fourth test phase planned for later this year, according to the Israel Defense Forces. 

Conceived in 2006 as the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense System, David’s Sling was developed with U.S. cooperation and joint funding of $250 million. Israel has requested additional U.S. funding of $150 million for the initial procurement phase. Deployment will involve two systems controlling multiple fire units and covering all of Israel. 

David’s Sling will expand Israel’s air defenses, enabling effective engagement of medium- and short-range ballistic missiles, guided ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and other weapons. David’s Sling is by 2016 expected to become part of the national missile defense system, which includes Arrow 2 and Iron Dome. The Stunner interceptor missile will be the primary endo-atmospheric interceptor of the system. The Arrow 3 ballistic missile weapon is expected to join the network after 2016, adding exo-atmospheric interception capabilities. 

Like the Arrow systems, David’s Sling will provide coverage from two central locations, rather than the distributed deployment of Iron Dome. With a protected footprint larger than that of the Iron Dome batteries, David’s Sling will be more effective in intercepting long-range rockets such as those used against Israel in recent conflicts. Such weapons, with ranges of 60-300 km., were supplied by Iran to Hezbollah. It will also be effective against guided ballistic missiles supplied by Iran to Hezbollah, and shorter-range rockets (75-160 km.) produced by Hamas.

DST-3 represents the third series of tests of the Stunner interceptor, developed for David’s Sling. The Stunner missile is slated to become part of other air-defense systems, including the future Patriot 4 planned by Raytheon. Stunner is compatible with Patriot fire units, thus extending their range and engagement capabilities and improving battle economy against overwhelming threats. Raytheon and Rafael are proposing the Stunner-Patriot option to international customers. 

The prime for David’s Sling is Rafael, with Raytheon a prime subcontractor. The multi-mission radar is from Israel Aerospace Industries/Elta Systems. Elbit Systems/Elisra developed the battle management center.