Upgraded David’s Sling aces new anti-missile tests

Upgraded David’s Sling aces new anti-missile tests

Defense Ministry hails successful joint trial with US as ‘important milestone’ for anti-ballistic missile battery

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israel and the United States completed tests on the latest version of the David’s Sling anti-ballistic missile system on Wednesday, the Defense Ministry said.

During one of the tests, the defense system’s radar array tracked an incoming test missile, calculated its trajectory, and the David’s Sling launched an interceptor missile that “destroyed the target as planned,” the ministry said.

“The success of the test is part of the plan to develop the system against future threats,” according to a statement.

The David’s Sling, also known as Magic Wand, is being developed in a joint project by the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency. It is meant to replace the Patriot missiles currently in Israel’s arsenal. The new system, which can shoot down medium-range missiles, can also be deployed against aircraft.

A test of the David's Sling missile defense system on January 25, 2017. (Defense Ministry)
A test of the David’s Sling missile defense system on January 25, 2017. (Defense Ministry)

The David’s Sling 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 and Arrow-3 are intended to engage long-range missiles.

The ministry did not specify what specific upgrades were made to the system, but upgrades to weapons systems are common.

In addition to the interception, the newest version of the missile defense battery was put through “a number of scenarios, which simulated future threats, that the system is meant to handle during a conflict,” the Defense Ministry said.

These experiments were conducted in an air base in the center of the country, the ministry said, in a likely reference to the Palmachim air base, where many missile defense tests are conducted.

The successful trials represent an “important milestone for the operational abilities of the State of Israel to protect itself against the expected threats in the region,” the ministry said.

The David's Sling Stunner missile on display, January 4, 2012 (Herzl Shapira/Flash90)
The David’s Sling Stunner missile on display, January 4, 2012 (Herzl Shapira/Flash90)

The system’s missile launcher is built by the Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American Raytheon defense contractor. The radar array is made by a subcontractor of the national Israeli Aerospace Industries, and the command-and-control center is built by a subcontractor of Elbit Systems.

In March, the Defense Ministry began delivering portions of the anti-missile system to the Israeli Air Force, having successfully tested it four months earlier.

One week ago, the Defense Ministry delivered the first Arrow 3 missile defense system to the Israeli Air Force, a year after it passed its final test.

The Arrow 3, which was also developed in a joint Israeli-American program, is designed to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere, taking out the weapons and their nuclear, biological, chemical or conventional warheads closer to their launch sites.

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