David’s Sling also formerly known as the Stunner or the SkyCeptor, is an Israel Defense Forces military system being jointly developed by the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon, designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 km (24.85 miles) to 300 km (186.41 miles). The missile system is modular, scalable, and flexible to tailor-fit the area and topology to be defended. David’s Sling interceptor (Stunner/ SkyCeptor) delivers superior kinematics, maneuverability and lethality by combining novel innovative steering control, multi-pulse propulsion and a next-generation seeker into a lightweight airframe.
The interceptor is a two-stage missile, with two targeting and guidance systems installed in its nose-tip (a radar and an electro-optical sensor). In 2006 Rafael was awarded a contract to develop a defense system to counter the threat of medium- to long-range rockets with ranges between 70 and 250 km (43 and 155 mi). In order to enable Israel to make use of the financial aid provided by the United States to further develop the system and to produce it, a partnership was established with Raytheon which developed the missile firing unit and overall logistic system and assisted Rafael with developing the interceptor. In some of Raytheon’s publications, the interceptor is referred to as “Stunner”.
David’s Sling is meant to bolster the second tier of Israel’s theater missile defense system. The name David’s Sling comes from the biblical story of David and Goliath. It will form one level of Israel’s future multi-tiered missile defense system that Israel is developing, which will also include Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Iron Dome, and Barak 8 and Iron Beam from as early as 2020. On 25 November 2012, Israel successfully tested the Stunner interceptor missile. In July 2013, Raytheon revealed it was working with international partners to develop a new air-defense missile system. The system is based on the AN/MPQ-53 radar from the MIM-104 Patriot, a Kongsberg/Raytheon Fire Direction Center, and the Rafael Stunner surface-to-air missile.
In August 2013, Raytheon and Rafael began to seek funding for a fourth-generation Patriot intercepting system, called the Patriot Advanced Affordable Capability-4 (PAAC-4). The system aims to integrate the Stunner interceptor from the jointly funded David’s Sling program with Patriot PAC-3 radars, launchers, and engagement control stations. The two-stage, multimode seeking Stunner would replace single-stage, radar-guided PAC-3 missiles produced by Lockheed Martin. The Missile Defense Agency has said that the U.S. Army is considering use of the Stunner as a potential solution to future U.S. military requirements. In February 2015, Israel asked the US Congress for $250M in additional assistance in producing David’s Sling.