The Israeli David’s Sling air and missile defense Weapon System (DSWS) today successfully completed its fourth and final series of tests (DST-4), the final milestone before the IDF declares it an operational system. The announcement is expected early next year.
The tests examined the capabilities and performance of the entire DSWS. The series included intercepts of multiple threat representative targets by Stunner interceptor missiles in realistic, real-time engagements. During each test, the Multi-Mission Radar (MMR) detected the target after launch and transferred flight information to the Battle Management Center (BMC), which calculated the defense plan. The Stunner interceptor was successfully launched, performed all flight phases, and engaged the target as planned. Preliminary analysis indicates that test objectives were successfully achieved.
Data gathered during the test series is being analyzed by program engineers and will be used for ongoing development and fielding of the DSWS. The test results provide confidence in future Israeli capabilities of defending against large-caliber rockets and other developing threats.
Today’s test was conducted by the system’s developer, Rafael, at a test range in southern Israel, with the participation of the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
The prime contractor for the DSWS is Rafael, with Raytheon Missile Systems as a sub-contractor. The MMR was developed by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries. The BMC, known as the Golden Almond, was developed by Elisra, an Elbit subsidiary.[nonmember]
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[ismember]The DSWS will become the middle-lower tier of Israel’s multi-tier missile defense system. This system currently includes the lower tier, protecting against short- and extended-range rockets, by the combat-proven Iron Dome system and the medium-high tier, defending against ballistic missiles, maintained by the IAI Arrow 2. The DSWS will be integrated at the middle-tier, targeting threats from medium-long range rockets and missiles as well as cruise missiles while the Arrow 3 constitute the upper tier, engaging long-range ballistic missiles outside the earth’s atmosphere. The Arrow 3 also completed a major test this month, demonstrating its capability of intercepting missile targets in space. The capabilities of Iron Dome have also been enhanced, enabling the system to engage its targets at longer ranges.
Conceived in 2006 as a Short-Range Ballistic Missile Defense System, David’s Sling was developed with U.S. cooperation and partial funding of $250 million. Israel has requested additional U.S. funding of $150 million for the initial procurement phase.
Like the Arrow systems, David’s Sling will provide national coverage from two central locations, rather than the distributed deployment of Iron Dome. With a protected footprint larger than that of the Iron Dome batteries, David’s Sling will be more effective in intercepting long-range rockets such as those launched against Israel in recent conflicts. These weapons, with ranges of 60-300 km., were supplied by Iran to Hezbollah. It will also be effective against mid-range rockets (75-160 km.) produced by Hamas.
The DSWS employs the Stunner interceptor missile, a new, highly maneuverable, hit-to-kill weapon developed by Rafael in cooperation with Raytheon. Raytheon is considering using the Stunner as the interceptor of the upcoming Patriot PAC-4 enhancement for its own air- and missile-defense system.