Military Capabilities

David’s Sling has dubious debut against Syrian missiles

24 July 2018

Israeli air-defence system David’s Sling had its operational debut on 23 July, but the point of impact of the incoming Syrian missiles was incorrectly calculated.

A Stunner is seen being launched during a test. (Rafael)A Stunner is seen being launched during a test. (Rafael)

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced soon after the engagement that a David’s Sling battery had launched two Stunner interceptor missiles at rockets that were suspected of heading towards Israeli territory. It added that the rockets were launched as part of the internal fighting in Syria and fell inside Syria.

In a follow-up statement, IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathon Cornicus said the Stunners were launched against two missiles from Tochka (SS-21 ‘Scarab’) tactical ballistic missile systems operated by the Syrian military. “The estimated projected impact site was inside Israel; that’s why we launched David’s Sling interceptors. It’s still unclear what exactly happened,” Lt Col Cornicus said. “This is an event that is still being investigated.”

Israeli media reported that the trajectory of the missiles changed in mid-flight, moving the projected impact point from Israeli to Syrian territory. One Stunner was reportedly ordered to self-destruct in Israeli airspace; the second probably came down in Syria.

Declared operational in April 2017, David’s Sling was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in partnership with US company Raytheon and is primarily designed to intercept short-range ballistic missiles and long-range artillery rockets, as well as cruise missiles and aircraft. It provides an intermediate layer of defence between the Iron Dome counter-rocket system and Arrow ballistic missile defence system.

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