David’s Sling officially began operational deployment in ceremonies held on Sunday at the Hatzor Airbase.
“Whoever seeks to hit us will be hit. Whoever threatens our existence places himself in existential danger,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The system is a joint project between Israel’s Rafael and the US’ Raytheon, and Netanyahu explained the importance of David’s Sling in defending Tel Aviv against missile and rocket threats, saying, “We have pioneering technology here and Israel continues to lead the world in this field.”
He added, “The David’s Sling system joins our previous technological developments such as the Iron Dome and the Arrow systems…Together they will protect Israel, its citizens and its cities,” according to Jerusalem Online.
David’s Sling is the most recent addition to Israel’s four-layered active defense network designed for the interception of long-range rockets and short-range ballistic missiles. Utilizing the same multimission radar Elta Systems developed for Iron Dome, the system helps connect the higher intercepting layers provided by the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems to the lower intercepting Iron Dome.
The two-stage, maneuverable Stunner missile uses impact to destroy targets, as opposed to the Iron Dome’s Tamir intercepting missile, which is a blast warhead.
Such a system had to be developed to adequately address the “unstable and indecisive Middle East” situation, according to Israeli Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel.
Last month the system began being delivered to the Israeli Air Force and in the coming months is expected to continue expansion, with future version set to include attack drone and cruise missiles.
In his remarks, Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Defense Minister, said the united “intellectual capabilities” of both Israel and the US helped the projects realize its purpose for securing the Middle Eastern nation.
He said, “Today we are finally seeing the operationalization of the system; a system that has no substitute and cannot be bought in any place in the world. This is, of course, combined with intellectual capabilities of ours and of our friends in the United States, and because of this combination we are able to answer whomever is trying to harm us,” according to Defense News.
In 2004, the Maine-based Raytheon was chosen to serve as subcontractor over a bid from Boeing by the Israeli Defense Ministry, and at the time was known as the Short-Range Ballistic Missile Defense. This was done to differentiate what would later become David’s Sling with the Israel-US Arrow, which is designed to intercept longer-range missiles.