The Finnish Ministry of Defense plans to buy the David’s Sling air defense system in a €316 million (U.S. $345 million) deal announced just one day after Finland joined NATO.
Finland’s Ministry of Defence said it “authorised the Finnish Defence Forces to procure the David’s Sling system as the next long-range air defence system of Finland.”
David’s Sling was developed as part of a joint program between the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems serving as the prime contractor. Rafael also makes the Iron Dome air defense system, which is for shorter range threats.
This will be the first export of the David’s Sling system. The system is designed to intercept advanced aerial threats, including ballistic missiles, aircrafts, UAVs and cruise missiles, Israel’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
According to the statement, the procurement process took several years and was a competitive process.
Finland said the system will extend the operational range of Finland’s ground-based air defense capabilities significantly.
“The minimum flight altitude requirement of the system was set at 15,000 meters in the request for quotation,” Finland’s Ministry of Defense said.
Finnish Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen added in the statement that the “acquisition will create a new capability for the Finnish Defence Forces to intercept targets at high altitude. At the same time we are continuing the ambitious and long-term development of Finland’s defence capability in a new security environment.”
The agreement with Israel includes interceptors, launchers and radars. While Rafael is the prime contractor, the agreement involves work with IAI’s Elta subsidiary regarding the multi-mission radar for the system, and also Elbit Systems, which makes the command and control system. Together, these are Israel’s three largest defense companies.
The agreement will require the U.S. to provide a sales release approval, both the Israeli and Finnish statements noted. Neither elaborated on when that approval might be expected.
The Finnish version of the system will be manufactured and integrated as a collaboration between Israeli, American and Finnish contractors, led by Rafael and Raytheon Technologies, the Israeli statement said.
Finland’s statement noted the main contract is worth €213 million and includes an immediate exercise of options for another €103 million. The contract also includes other unspecified options for €216 million.
In addition, the Finnish statement notes “the procurement contract will include a separate part between the Israel Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Defence of Finland to ensure the security of supply of the system. The arrangement will ensure the availability of critical system components in all security situations.”
David’s Sling was first publicly activated to confront threats in 2018, a year after it was declared operational.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.