Israel used its David’s Sling air defense system successfully for the first time on May 10 to intercept a rocket aimed at Tel Aviv during a rocket barrage from Gaza-based terrorist groups, according to public reports. Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and American defense contractor Raytheon Missile Systems jointly developed the system to fill the medium-range role in Israel’s multilayered missile defense infrastructure, which includes the Iron Dome system for short-range threats and the Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 systems for long-range threats.
“This intercept demonstrates the capability of the David’s Sling system and once again highlights the value of U.S.-Israel defense cooperation. As threats grow to both countries, deeper bilateral defense cooperation will only become more important to save American and Israeli lives.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power
“Israel is preparing for a multi-front counteroffensive in the face of Iranian-sponsored missile and rocket threats from Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria. Demonstrating David’s Sling capabilities in the south sends a message to Hezbollah and Hamas ahead of a larger confrontation on other fronts.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor
David’s Sling became operational in 2017. It is designed to intercept short-range ballistic missiles, larger-caliber rockets, cruise missiles, aircraft, and drones. It uses the Stunner missile with a reported range of 25-186 miles (40-300 km) to hit its target, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Missile Defense Project. The missile carries no warhead and is designed to strike targets directly, defeating them with kinetic force. Each firing unit can carry up to 12 missiles. In 2018, Israel fired interceptors from David’s Sling at ballistic missiles launched from Syria, but the intercepts were aborted after the Israel Defense Force determined the missiles were not a threat.
Israel began developing David’s Sling in 2006 and signed an agreement with the United States in 2008 to co-develop it. From 2006 to 2020, the United States contributed over $2.4 billion in aid for its development.
“Gaza-Based Terrorists Backed by Iran Renew Rocket Fire, Reaching Tel Aviv Outskirts,” FDD Flash Brief
“Assessing Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System,” by Jacob Nagel and Jonathan Schanzer
“Avoid Overconfidence When It Comes to Middle East Air and Missile Defense,” by Ryan Brobst and Bradley Bowman
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