The final piece of Israel’s air-defense shield became operational on Sunday afternoon.
David’s Sling was unveiled at the Hatzor Air Force Base near Ashdod, at a ceremony attended by American officials and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel and Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, commander of the Aerial Defense Division.
Netanyahu said the “cutting-edge technology” of David’s Sling will help protect Israel against its enemies.
“Whoever seeks to hit us will be hit. Whoever threatens our existence places himself in existential danger,” the prime minister said.
Israel will continue to follow in the footsteps of King David who protected the Jewish people 3,000 years ago, said Netanyahu.
“We recognize the age-old adage ‘Those who dare, win.’ As an ancient people that treasures life, we continue to march in the path of King David. David’s sword in our hand, David’s Sling is in our skies and David’s shield is on our flag. We will join strength to spirit and we will ensure Israel’s victory,” he said.Netanyahu praised the US for its cooperation with Israel and its longstanding support of the IDF.
Addressing James D. Syring, a US Navy vice-admiral and head of the US Missile Defense Agency, the prime minister said: “We both face increasingly dangerous threats, but together we can meet these challenges better than we can alone.”
David’s Sling is the result of collaboration between the Haifa-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, US defense contractor Raytheon, which also produces the Patriot missile system, among others. Elta Systems, a subdivision of Israel Aerospace Industries, developed the system’s radar and Elisra, a subdivision of Elbit Systems, developed the command and control mechanisms.
“At a time when budgets are tight, know that the government and people of Israel are grateful for the ongoing support by the United States,” Netanyahu said.
Syring told the crowd that delivery of the system was due to years of hard work and heralded a “new tier of aerial defense.”
“It is an impressive day for an already impressive year,” he said, referring to developments and testing of several aerial defense systems.
“Israeli missile defenses have never been stronger and are poised to project Israeli citizens from the myriad threats they face,” Syring said.
Liberman said David’s Sling was indispensable for Israel’s security, as countries in the Middle East have spent billions of dollars in 2016 alone on military technology.
“There is only one way to deal with this threat – with defense,” he said, adding that while the project was extremely expensive, “we have technology you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Thanks to this system, we now have an answer to all of our enemies, to all those who threaten us.”
Eshel said the IAF “will continue to grow in our capabilities and defense abilities in a turbulent Middle East, and the new technology we received will bring the air force to a whole new level of defense for the State of Israel.”
The Israel Air Force chief’s speech was cut short by an electrical outage.
Before leaving the stage, he joked, “While the power might be out, these systems will work, they will defend the State of Israel.”
Haimovich said the threats faced by Israel today “are much more complicated than in the past,” but added, “They will be met with our newer and more advanced defense systems. I am sure that David’s Sling as well as the Iron Dome, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3, will allow us to complete our goals. And I trust that our soldiers and warriors, that they are making the difference between us and our enemies.”
Israel’s air defenses now include the Iron Dome to shoot down short-range rockets, and the Arrow system to intercept ballistic missiles re-entering from outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The David’s Sling system is designed to intercept incoming fire from a range of 40 km. to 300 km. That includes tactical ballistic missiles, mediumto long-range rockets and cruise missiles.
The systems are designed to provide comprehensive protection against short- and mid-range missiles fired from the Gaza Strip, and more sophisticated long-range ballistic missiles from Iran.