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Israel: David’s Sling air defence systems shows high efficiency

By Arie Egozi

The Israeli-developed David's Sling air defence system has generated significant interest in Europe. This interest predates the current war, culminating in Finland's acquisition of the system. Switzerland also expressed a desire to purchase the system, but the sale has not been approved by the U.S.

 

David’s Sling, produced by Rafael, will be delivered to Finland under a contract valued at 316 million euros.

The Swiss Ministry of Defence was keen to secure the system, but the necessary U.S. approval was not forthcoming. Consequently, the Swiss Ministry of Defence signed additional deals to purchase the highly advanced U.S.-made Patriot air defence systems.

 

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David’s Sling was developed in a joint venture between Rafael and the U.S. company Raytheon; thus, Washington must sanction its export.

“David’s Sling” is an advanced missile defence system co-developed and co-produced by the Israel Ministry of Defence’s IMDO and the U.S. Missile Defence Agency. Rafael Advanced Systems leads the industrial team. The system is designed to intercept sophisticated threats including ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, drones, and more.

David’s Sling achieved another successful intercept during the ongoing conflict with the Hamas terror organization in Gaza.

On October 13, Hamas launched its largest and heaviest rocket, named “Ayesh 250,” toward Northern Israel. The intended target was the headquarters of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Northern Command in Safed, the most populous city in the Upper Galilee, located approximately 180 km from the Gaza Strip.

 

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The rocket was intercepted and destroyed by Israel’s David’s Sling medium-range air and missile defence system. The rocket’s debris fell into a waste recycling facility in northern Israel, well short of its intended target.

According to Dr. Uzi Rubin, Hamas assigns its rockets compound names that include the name of a “Shahid” (martyr) and a number indicating the rocket’s range in kilometers. Hence, “Ayesh 250” suggests the rocket is designed to reach 250 km.

Dr. Rubin, the founder and first director (1991-1999) of the Israel Missile Defence Organization in the Israel Ministry of Defence, was responsible for developing, producing, and deploying the country’s first national defence shield—the Arrow missile.

In a paper Rubin wrote for the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, he posits that “Ayesh 250” may be an indigenous Hamas design, likely the work of Jamal Al Zabada, a Palestinian/American rocket engineer and alumnus of a prestigious U.S. technological institute, who became the chief engineer of Hamas’s military industry in the early 2000s.

 

 

Hamas fired a single “Ayesh 250” on May 13, 2021, aiming for the Ramon International Airport near Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city. It missed the airport and landed in the South Negev district. The IDF has not released any information about the distance it covered.

Rubin explains that David’s Sling utilizes a high-altitude, highly agile interceptor that is heavier and more expensive than the Iron Dome. It is engineered to intercept heavy long-range rockets as well as aircraft.

 

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