January 28, 2013
Credit: Credit: Rafael
David Eshel Tel Aviv
Israeli defense contractor Rafael has validated the David's Sling missile-defense system in an intercept test, when it scored a direct hit on a target vehicle simulating a medium-range rocket.
David's Sling was developed by Israel. Rafael is the prime contractor and development authority, and Raytheon the leading subcontractor and U.S. program lead. The system is an endo-atmospheric weapon, targeting ballistic missiles and medium-range rockets, manned and unmanned aircraft, cruise missiles and guided weapons. An air-launched version is under study.
The Nov. 22 test covered a large area of the Negev desert, to test the weapon's long-range capability. The initial David's Sling unit stands up this year under the Israeli air force's active defense branch. Initial operational capability is slated for 2014.
A test video released by the defense ministry shows the intercept phases. In the first stage the target rocket is launched. The David's Sling multimission radar (MMR) detects the launch and tracks the rocket as it ascends over the horizon. Once the trajectory is determined, the battle management and control (BMC) system calculates the intercept point and orders the fire unit to launch an interceptor. In this intermediate phase the two missiles fly toward each other, with the Stunner intercept missile, developed by Raytheon and Rafael, accelerating rapidly. Upon locating the target with its two seeking sensors (one electro-optic, the other radio frequency), Stunner enters the final intercept course and strikes the target.
The David's Sling system incorporates powerful MMR, BMC and fire units. The Stunner missile is fired from a 12-pack launcher with the aid of a short-burn droppable booster. A multiband seeker (incorporating radar and imaging infrared sensors) optimizes interception under all engagement conditions, including adverse weather and countermeasures. The missile has no warhead, and uses an enhanced hit-to-kill (HTK) mechanism to destroy missiles and maneuvering aircraft. The weapon is designed for maneuverability and speed, and has target-change flexibility.
The Stunner has a unique “dolphin-nose” front section which allows both the radar and IR seeker to look forward and a three-pulse motor. The first two motor pulses accelerate the missile through its midcourse trajectory, where it maintains course to a location and then activates the seeker to acquire the incoming missile. Upon target detection, the missile determines the intercept course, as the third rocket pulse activates to increase speed and maximize kinetic energy on impact.
The missile can change course automatically or by command. The weapon is aerodynamically controlled without thrust vectoring. Two sets of four movable wings are controlled by servo systems fore and aft of the missile motor and driven by commands from the guidance electronic unit in the front section. (A third, fixed set of wings act as flow control vanes for the aft wings.) A data link receives target updates and commands from the ground.