David's Sling is designed to intercept short and medium range theatre ballistic missiles (TBMs) from non-separating SCUD-B and SCUD-Cs to separating SCUD-Ds, as well as long-range maneuverable rockets and cruise missiles. David's Sling, with its unique dolphin-shaped maneuverable nose can travel over Mach 15, changing direction to seek out its target in the atmosphere providing a hit to kill kinetic metal on metal intercept within centimeters against reentry warheads from ballistic missiles and much slower cruise missiles.
The interceptor is called Stunner, a capability that fills the wide gap for Israel between the current Iron Dome's short-range rocket defense and the Arrow 2's lower space interceptors. This new third layer of defense provides Israel with three (Iron Dome, David's Sling, Arrow 2) out of four needed layers with its own indigenous missile defense systems. The fourth layer - the long shots from midcourse to low space is currently being handled by U.S. Aegis BMD ships in the Mediterranean Sea. The layer that David's Sling will be replacing is the much older U.S. Patriot PAC-2 interceptor systems operated by Israel.
The Davidís Sling Weapon System is designed as an additional layer of defense against ballistic missiles, to add interception opportunities to the joint US-Israel Arrow Weapon System and to improve Israelís defense capabilities against missile threats.
The Davidís Slingís interceptor missile is an advanced weapon with a greater range than the interceptor used by Iron Dome, at least in part due to engine, which switches off and on a few times during the flight. The test involved no warhead, with a trial involving a warhead to be held by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the future. The test brought Israel closer to possessing an active defense shield protecting the country against Islamic militant group Hezbollahís projectiles. The Davidís Sling missile defense system, being developed by Israelís defense company Rafael and US defense contractor Raytheon, is designed to fill the gap between Iron Domeís short-range protection and the Arrow 2 long-range ballistic missile defense program.
The system, to become operational in 2014, would defend Israel against missiles with a range between 70 kilometers (45 miles) and 300 km (190 miles). The Jerusalem Post said that according to the IDF, there are some 200,000 rockets and missiles pointed in the direction of Israel from Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Israel was unprepared to deal with the threat posed by short- and medium-range rockets. As early as 2003, the GOI told the MDA that short-range ballistic missile and rocket threats were developing in Lebanon. As a result of this, the U.S. and Israel started to research this two years ago, and Congress granted Israel US$2 million in 2006, and US$24 million in 2007 to research possible solutions to these threats. The idea was to come up with a system that (a) can intercept threats 30-250 kilometers out; (b) utilizes a fast and agile interceptor; (c) covers all of northern Israel; and (d) addresses the threat posed by the Zelzal missile. The Arrow missile system and PAC-3 Patriots are not sufficient to intercept rockets and missiles launched 30-250 kilometers from Israel.
As of 2006 Rafael and Raytheon were working on "David's Sling," and if funding was found for the project, it could become operational by 2010-2011. The program would cost US$60 million in 2008, and Israel would approach the U.S. for funding support, under a scenario in which the US contributed US$40 million, and Israel US$20 million. Some of the parts for the program would be developed in Israel, others in the US.
The system will be mobile and use advanced missile interceptors with rocket motors, advanced radars, and offer a low-cost, hit-to-kill capability. Advocates claimed that this new system would cost one-tenth of the current hit-to-kill capability, could cover all of northern Israel, and would be able to hit Zelzal missiles. It would be comprised of three radars, three command-and-control posts, and three interceptor batteries with six launchers per battery. Each battery will have 50 interceptors.
By 2009 Israel was making progress on the upper- and medium-tier ballistic missile defense systems (Arrow-3 and David's Sling, respectively). By March 2009 the Israel Air Force had established a new anti-aircraft battalion whose initial task will be to learn the Iron Dome system. The future task of the new battalion would be to receive the Magic Wand system now being developed that is earmarked to provide a response to medium-range rockets. Israeli security officials believed that these two systems will significantly change how Israel deals with terrorist organizations and will even prompt them to find new threats with which to attack IDF soldiers and residents of southern Israel.
Israeli officials asked Congress in March 2015 for an additional $317 million for David's Sling and other Israeli missile defense programs, on top of $158 million already requested by the Obama administration in its fiscal 2016 budget.
Israel successfully tested its David's Sling defense system, also known in Hebrew as Magic Wand, local media reported 25 November 2012. Davidís Sling intercepted a test-fired mid-range missile in its first trial run of the kind, the Haaretz daily reported. The fact of the eistence of both programs had been public knowledge for some time, though there was no clear explanation as to the two names.
It experienced an early setback when a Nov. 18, 2013 trial failed because of a faulty sensor setting. But all other interception tests have been successful, Israeli and U.S. officials said.
The Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency completed a successful intercept test of the Davidís Sling Weapon System on 20 November 2013. This test, designated Davidís Sling TestĖ2, was the second intercept test of the Stunner interceptor for the Davidís Sling Weapon System, and was conducted at a test range in southern Israel. A target missile was launched and tracked by the systemís multi-mission radar. The radar transferred flight information to the battle management control system. The Stunner interceptor successfully performed its planned trajectory and destroyed the target. The successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Davidís Sling Weapon System and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat.
On April 1, 2015 Israel announced that it hd successfully tested and validated its new "David's Sling" Air and Missile Defense system against a challenging realistic target missile in the upper atmosphere.
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