TEL AVIV, Isreal — With hit-to-kill precision, the joint US-Israel David's Sling Weapon System (DSWS) demonstrated Monday its ability to destroy salvos of heavy long-range rockets and short-range ballistic missiles during a series of developmental tests.
The tests, conducted at the Negev dDesert test range of Rafael Systems Ltd., prime contractor for the DSWS, marked the fourth and final series of developmental tests before the operational system is slated for delivery to the Israeli Air Force in the first quarter of 2016.
Hundreds of Israeli and American industry developers, program officials and uniformed operators from Israel's Air Defense Force participated in Monday's tests, which put the system through several operational scenarios against multiple targets representing "representative and relevant threats," said Shlomo Hess, Rafael program manager.
"Today, all these unique technologies that comprise the David's Sling Weapon System became operational," said Hess.
"It's very rare to achieve all the goals in such a complex test series … against long-range targets with heavy warheads capable of sustaining very big collateral damage. We are all in a very high level of excitement," he said.
While Israel's MoD declined to state which targets were employed in the tests, it noted that the system's highly maneuverable, hit-to-kill Stunner interceptor was employed successfully against "multiple threat representative targets … in realistic, real-time engagements."
According to an MoD statement, during each test, the system’s multi-mission radar, designed by Elta Systems, detected the target after launch and transferred flight information to the Golden Almond Battle Management Center by Elbit Systems Elisra during each test.
The Stunner interceptor, developed by Rafael with support from its US partner, Raytheon Missile Systems, "was successfully launched, performed all flight phases, and engaged the target as planned," MoD reported.
Designed to bridge the lower and upper tiers of Israel's four-layer active defense network, DSWS will be deployed above Israel's Iron Dome system and below the upper-atmospheric Arrow-2 and exo-atmospheric Arrow-3.
Israel expects DSWS to be particularly useful in defending against the vast and increasingly precise arsenal of Syrian 302- mm rockets and Iranian half-ton warhead Fatah-110 rockets in the hands of Lebanon-based Hezbollah. It also is designed to defend against Scud B-class ballistic missiles, which can deliver one-ton warheads at ranges of some 300 km (186 miles).
"With David's Sling, the gap between our upper- and lower-tier defenses is closing," said Uzi Rubin, a prominent missile expert and founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the country's four-tier active defense network of Iron Dome, DSWS and Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 represent world-leading interception capabilities. He credited Israel's "rare-quality capabilities," the ongoing US-Israel government-to-government and industry-to-industry partnership and generous funding from Washington for building up the nation's strategic capabilities.
Monday's test concludes development of the first block of DSWS. Two additional blocks are planned, including a version optimized to defend against cruise missiles.