Finland is advancing with the acquisition of a high-altitude air defense system known as David’s Sling, jointly developed by Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and U.S. firm Raytheon. The 316 million euro procurement has entered the negotiation phase, with the formal agreement anticipated to be signed in the coming months. While the sale to Finland received approval from the U.S. government in August, it now awaits final authorization from Israel. Despite recent attention on Israel due to its conflict with Hamas, Finland’s Ministry of Defense has affirmed that these developments have not impacted the arms deal. Finland has a history of diversifying its sources for arms acquisitions, and Israel is one of its suppliers.
David’s Sling is designed to intercept aerial threats at high altitudes, with a minimum interception range of 15 kilometers. This complements existing defense systems, which include the Norwegian NASAMS 2 for lower-altitude defense. An older high-altitude missile defense system acquired from Russia in the late 1990s had been retired due to issues related to aging missile propellants. David’s Sling, also known as Kela David, is a sophisticated military system developed to intercept a variety of threats, including enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, and cruise missiles. It can engage targets at ranges from 40 to 300 kilometers. This system was designed to replace the MIM-23 Hawk and MIM-104 Patriot systems in the Israeli arsenal.
The heart of the system is the Stunner missile, which is capable of intercepting advanced tactical ballistic missiles at low altitude. It employs dual CCD/IR seekers to distinguish between decoys and actual missile warheads. The system is equipped with the Elta EL/M-2084 Active Electronically Scanned Array multi-mode radar for target tracking. David’s Sling features a multi-stage interceptor that includes a solid-fuel rocket motor booster and an asymmetrical kill vehicle with advanced maneuverability capabilities during the terminal phase. This system became operational in April 2017. David’s Sling, named after the biblical story of David and Goliath, plays a crucial role in Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense system, working alongside systems like Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Iron Dome, and Iron Beam.
In recent history, David’s Sling has demonstrated its effectiveness in intercepting rockets launched from the Gaza Strip during the Israel-Hamas conflict. Notably, it successfully intercepted rockets aimed at Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, underscoring its importance in safeguarding civilian populations.On 10 May 2023 David’s Sling successfully shot down a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip which targeted Tel-Aviv. Two rockets fired from Gaza toward Jerusalem were intercepted, one by the Iron Dome, and the second by David’s Sling. It marked the second-ever David’s Sling interception, after a rocket fired at Tel Aviv on Wednesday was downed by the system. The system was used to destroy a long range Ayyash-250 rocket that was launched by Hamas during the 2023 Israel–Hamas war.