November 26, 2012
Credit: Credit: IDF
A new Israeli air shield against rockets more powerful than those intercepted by Iron Dome in the Gaza conflict passed its first field test last week after being rushed through development, officials said on Sunday.
They said that David’s Sling, billed as Israel’s answer to the longer-range missiles of Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas and Syria, shot down a target rocket in a secret Nov. 20 desert trial that coincided with fierce shelling exchanges between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Worried about deteriorating security on the fronts with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, and the international showdown over the disputed nuclear programme of arch-foe Iran, Israel has been accelerating work on its multi-tier missile shield, with extensive help from the United States.
A source in Israel’s defence industries said David’s Sling was originally scheduled for live trials in 2013, and that this was brought forward “given the general sense of urgency”.
David’s Sling uses technology similar to that of the Iron Dome system, which Israel says had a 90 percent success rate, intercepting 421 of the rockets fired from Gaza in eight days of fighting that ended in a ceasefire on Wednesday.
Also known as Magic Wand, David’s Sling is being made by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd and U.S. firm Raytheon Co.
“The completion of the programme will be a significant layer for Israel’s multi-tiered anti-missile defence system,” Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in a statement
Iron Dome is the lowest of the tiers, tackling the guerrilla rockets of Gaza and Hezbollah. It was originally meant to handle ranges of up to 70 km (45 miles), but designers say this is being expanded to some 250 km (155 miles).
The top-most tier is Israel’s Arrow ballistic interceptor, designed to shoot down long-range Iranian and Syrian missiles at atmospheric altitudes - high enough so that any non-conventional warheads they might carry would be safely destroyed.