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David’s Sling air defense system proves itself in real combat

By Arie Egozi

The Israeli David's Sling air defence system, one of Israel's multi-tiered defence systems against rockets and missiles, proved itself for the first time in combat on 10th May when it intercepted a heavy rocket launched from Gaza towards Tel Aviv.

The heavy rocket was one of the 470 that the Hamas terror organization launched on that day into Israel, with most of them posing a threat to Israeli civilians and being intercepted by the Iron Dome system.



David’s Sling was developed by Rafael and is designed to intercept short-range ballistic missiles, large-calibre rockets, and cruise missiles. The David’s Sling Weapon System includes a vertical missile firing unit, an ELM-2084 fire control radar, a battle management/operator station, and the Stunner interceptor. It is designed to intercept ballistic and cruise missiles at ranges of 40 to 300 km.

The system’s interceptor, the Stunner, is a two-stage, 4.6 m-long missile capable of intercepting targets at altitudes of up to 15 km and ranges between 40 and 300 km. It uses a three-pulse solid propellant motor to reach speeds of up to Mach 7.5. Its first two pulses accelerate the missile through its initial trajectory, while the third activates to manoeuvre the interceptor and increase speed prior to intercept.

According to the Missile Threat website, unlike the Iron Dome’s Tamir interceptor, Stunner has no warhead, defeating targets by striking them directly. The missile’s asymmetric, “dolphin-shaped” nose features two sensors for terminal guidance: a combined electro-optical/imaging infrared (EO/IR) sensor and a radar seeker for all-weather performance. For midcourse guidance, the missile receives updates from the system’s ground-based radar via an onboard data link. Each Stunner missile costs an estimated $1 million to produce.



The system has generated significant interest in European countries following the war in Ukraine. Only recently, Finland, a new NATO member, announced that it will purchase the Israeli-made system. According to an official statement from the Finnish government, the Ministry of Defense has authorized the Finnish Defense Forces to procure the David’s Sling system as Finland’s next long-range air defence system. According to the statement, Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems will deliver the system, with the procurement estimated to be worth approximately 316 million euros, excluding value-added tax.

 

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