Aerial Warfare

Israel Defence Forces David’s Sling Conducts Its First Operational Interception

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Israel Defence Forces David’s Sling Conducts Its First Operational Interception

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David's Sling medium to long range surface-to-air/anti-ballistic missile.
David's Sling medium to long range surface-to-air/anti-ballistic missile.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried out the David’s Sling (Kela David) Air Defense Missile System’s 1st operational interception, as part of Israel’s current “Shield and Arrow” Operation. Integrated into David’s Sling also formerly known as Magic Wand, and responsible for detecting and tracking a wide range of targets and threats, is the ground-based mobile 3D AESA multi-mission radar (MMR) developed and produced by ELTA Systems, a Group within Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). David’s Sling is meant to replace the MIM-23 Hawk and MIM-104 Patriot in the Israeli arsenal.

David’s Sling 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 to 300 km (25 to 190 mi). The system’s Stunner missile is designed to intercept the newest generation of tactical ballistic missiles at low altitude, such as the Russian Iskander and the Chinese DF-15 using an on-board dual CCD/IR seekers to distinguish between decoys and the actual warhead of the missile.

David's Sling medium to long range surface-to-air/anti-ballistic missile.
David’s Sling medium to long range surface-to-air/anti-ballistic missile. (Photo by Raytheon)

The multi-stage interceptor consists of a solid-fuel rocket motor booster, followed by an asymmetrical kill vehicle with advanced steering for super-maneuverability during the kill-stage. A three-pulse motor provides additional acceleration and maneuverability during the terminal phase. David’s Sling became operational in April 2017. David’s Sling was 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 forms one level of Israel’s future multi-tiered missile defense system, which also includes Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Iron Dome, and Iron Beam.

On 23 July 2018, David’s Sling was used for the first time in a combat situation. Ultimately the two Syrian short-range ballistic missiles—fired as part of the country’s internal fighting and not deliberately aimed at Israel—did not clear the border and landed one kilometer inside Syria. One of the interceptors was detonated over Israel. In November 2019, Chinese media reports claimed that the Russians captured the other missile, which was transferred to them by Syria. The missile was found intact by Syrian military forces, as it did not explode on contact after being fired in July 2018. On 10 May 2023 David’s Sling successfully shot down a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip which targeted Tel-Aviv.

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