In a statement Tuesday, Israel's Defense Ministry announced that the delivery process is taking place gradually, according to the DSWS development plan.
That phase will be followed "in the near future" by integration testing of all system components prior to a declaration of initial operational capability by the Israel Air Force, according to the ministry.
In the past month, the DSWS was put through multiple operational simulations as part of the US-Israel Juniper Cobra exercise, a biennial air defense drill aimed at honing interoperability between the two nations.
The system completed a series of live-fire development tests last December against heavy rocket and short-range ballistic missile targets at Rafael's Negev desert test range. At the conclusion of those tests, Shlomo Hess, Rafael's DSWS program manager, announced that "all the unique technologies that comprise the David's Sling Weapon System" had been validated and that the system would soon be transferred to Israel Air Force users.
"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," Hess said at the time.
The jointly funded DSWS is designed to bridge the lower and upper tiers of Israel's four-layer active defense defense network. It will be deployed above Israel's Iron Dome 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 302mm rockets and Iranian half-ton warhead-equipped 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 kilometers.
In its March 1 statement, Israel's MoD said the hit-to-kill system "is considered the world's most revolutionary innovation" of missile interceptors.
"David's Sling will allow Israel to more effectively defend against the wide range of current and future threats to its civilians. It will provide an additional layer of protection against short- and medium-range missiles and rockets, particularly against precision strikes," according to MoD.
Future planned block developments aim to render the system capable of defending against cruise missiles and other air breathing targets.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.