TEL AVIV — Israel’s state-owned Rafael and US-based Raytheon are seeking Pentagon approval to integrate the jointly funded US-Israel Stunner missile into a fourth-generation Patriot intercepting system, according to government and industry sources.
Notionally named Patriot Advanced Affordable Capability-4 (PAAC-4), the prospective system aims to integrate the new Stunner interceptor developed under the joint US-Israel David’s Sling program with Raytheon-developed Patriot PAC-3 radars, launchers and engagement control stations.
Under the PAAC-4 plan, the two-stage, multimode seeking Stunner would replace single-stage, radar-guided PAC-3 missiles produced for the US Army and foreign military sales customers by Lockheed Martin.
Rafael and Raytheon declined comment.
In interviews here, government and industry sources claim the prospective, Stunner-based PAAC-4 interceptors will offer improved operational performance at some 20 percent of the estimated US $2 million unit cost of the Lockheed-built PAC-3 missiles. They said both firms, with the support of Israel’s Defense Ministry, are lobbying for some $20 million in US government funding to demonstrate cost and performance claims through a prototype PAAC-4 system.
“The two companies are cooperating on what we’re calling US insertion,” an Israeli program official said. “The idea is to take Stunner and integrate it into US Army force structure, leveraging Raytheon capabilities that already exist and the fruits soon to be reaped from the US-Israel partnership on David’s Sling.”
The Israeli program official said an existing teaming agreement between Raytheon and Rafael allows the US company to assume prime contractor status, with at least 60 percent of the Stunner missile to be produced in the United States. Over the past year, sources here say, the two firms have briefed US Army officers, government officials and congressional staffers on the proposed Patriot upgrade, including Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics; Dan Shapiro, US ambassador to Israel; and Christine Fox, former director of the Pentagon’s cost, assessment and program evaluation office.
In an interview last month, a Pentagon source confirmed that the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the US Army were considering use of the joint Stunner as a potential solution to future US military requirements. However, he stressed, “Our primary focus is achieving initial operational capability of DSWS [David’s Sling Weapon System] in support of Israeli requirements.”
Developed by Rafael and Raytheon and managed jointly by MDA and the Israel Missile Defense Organization, David’s Sling aims to provide a cost-effective, broad-area defense against long-range, large-caliber artillery rockets and short-range ballistic missiles. Future block versions will optimize the system to intercept cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and maneuvering ballistic targets. At the heart of David’s Sling is the Mach-6-flying, highly maneuvering hit-to-kill intercepting missile known in the US as Stunner and in Israel as Magic Wand.
The two-stage interceptor features a solid-fueled first-stage booster and a second-stage kill vehicle whose thrust and steering capabilities are controlled by a three-pulse motor. An all-weather, day/night radar and electro-optical multimode seeker guides the missile toward interception, which takes place high enough in the atmosphere — up to 40 kilometers — to prevent debris from falling over defended areas.
David’s Sling scored its first full system interceptions in dual tests in November and at least one additional intercept test is planned before initial fielding with the Israel Air Force in 2014, according to Pentagon budget documents submitted to Congress.
Part of Israel’s planned multilayered active defense intercepting network, David’s Sling will bridge lower-tier targets handled by Israel’s Iron Dome and Patriot PAC-2 systems with higher-threat Scud- and Shihab-class targets defended by the operational Arrow-2 and planned Upper Tier Arrow-3.
In an earlier news release announcing receipt of its design and development subcontract from Rafael, Mike Booen, then-vice president of Raytheon’s Advanced Security and Directed Energy Systems, said the Stunner “redefines the performance-cost-value equation for terminal missile defense; providing all-weather, hit-to-kill performance at a tactical missile price.”