As tensions mount between Israel and its neighbors, the country’s David's Sling missile defense system will be operationally ready in the next two weeks.
“In the next few weeks we will finish a long process of testing a new weapons system that will join the air force,” said Lt.-Col. Kobi Regev, the David’s Sling battalion commander. “The new and more advanced system, which is connected with our two older systems, the Iron Dome and Arrow Missile Defense System, is more relevant to the threats posed to Israeli citizens.”
Along with the Iron Dome, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets, and the Arrow, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, David’s Sling intercepts tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 km.-300 km.
Together the systems will provide a comprehensive protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short- and midrange missiles used by Hezbollah and Gazan terrorist groups, as well as the threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles.
On Friday, Arrow intercepted a Syrian army ballistic missile fired toward Israel. It was the first time the system was used since it came into service 17 years ago.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has also warned that his group is able to hit “the entirety of occupied Palestine with missiles,” but according to a senior IDF officer in the Air Defense Command, the addition of the David’s Sling to Israel’s air defenses now enables the IDF to protect more territory from enemy rockets or missiles.
“The addition of David's Sling’s has brought Israel’s air-defense systems to a whole new level,” he said. “We are now able to protect more of the country from aerial threats.”
A large corps of soldiers have already been drafted to train on the new system, coming from all disciplines with experience in other air-defense systems, he said.
Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, commander of the Aerial Defense Division, said in July at the ceremony marking the establishment of the David’s Sling Battalion that the “system has a significant added value to the aerial-defense world, and the process of making it operational is complex and doesn’t only amount to integrating the system, but it also has to do with accumulating professional and operational knowledge, with infrastructure and most importantly – with people.”
David’s Sling is a joint Israeli- US project, with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems collaborating with American defense contractor Raytheon, which also produces the Patriot missile system. Other components of the system were developed by Elta, a subdivision of Israel Aerospace Industries, which developed the system’s radar, and the Elisra subdivision of Elbit Systems, which developed the command and control mechanisms.
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