Israeli and US officials declared a new medium-range missile interceptor fully operational Monday, ending years of development and testing for the key component of Israel’s defense array.
The announcement by the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency precedes delivery of an operational David’s Sling system to the Israeli Air Force in 2016, IMDO director Yair Ramati said.
David’s Sling, also known by the name Magic Wand, is meant to replace the Patriot missiles currently in Israel’s arsenal. The new system, which can shoot down medium-range missile threats, can also be deployed against aircraft.
Once the system is handed over to the air force, it will go through some additional real-world exercises before it is fully deployed, officials said.
The move to declare the system operational was made after the system passed a final series of tests over the past several weeks.
Dubbed DST-4, the fourth series of tests was the “final milestone” in preparing the system for deployment and was conducted at a test range in southern Israel.
The tests examined capabilities and performance of the entire David’s Sling weapon system.
In the final test of the series, an interceptor missile was successfully launched, performed all flight phases, and engaged the target, said a representative from Rafael Industries, which helped develop the missile system.
“We achieved all of our goals completely with this [final] test,” the Rafael project manager said. “It’s very rare.
During the tests, multiple simulated targets were intercepted by the system’s Stunner interceptor missiles in realistic, real-time engagements, according to the Rafael representative.
Those targets included ballistic missiles, which are fired with a set trajectory, as well as more maneuverable aircraft.
“The targets were things the David’s Sling weapons system will have to face — but I hope not in the near future,” the representative said.
The various parts of the David’s Sling system, including the Multi-Mission Radar to detect targets and the Battle Management Center, which calculates defense plans, worked as they should, the official said.
According to a statement from the Defense Ministry, information collected during the test series is being analyzed by program engineers and will be used for ongoing development and fielding of the system.
In the statement, the ministry said the tests strengthen Israel’s confidence of being capable to defend against large caliber rockets and other developing threats.
The David’s Sling System is the middle tier of Israel’s multi-layer defense layer. The lowest layer is the Iron Dome system, capable of intercepting short-range missiles. David’s Sling is intended to engage missiles with a range of 70-250 kilometers; and the Arrow-2 (operational) and Arrow-3 (under development) are intended to engage long-range missiles.
Earlier this month, Israel carried out the first successful test of Arrow-3, shooting down a ballistic target in space.
David’s Sling is manufactured primarily by Israeli company Rafael, with Raytheon Missile Systems as a sub-contractor.
The system’s radar is manufactured by Israeli company Elta, a subsidiary of the Israel Aerospace Industries. The Battle Management Center is developed by Elisra, a subsidiary of Israeli company Elbit.