Senior officials from Israel’s political and military establishments attended Sunday’s ceremony to mark the operational integration of Israel’s newest air defense system.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman led the ceremony at the Hatzor Air Base, near the Gaza Strip, to unveil David’s Sling, which is designed to intercept mid-range missiles with ranges of 45-185 miles.
David’s Sling is part of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense system. The lowest layer is Iron Dome, capable of intercepting short-range rockets and mortar shells like those fired by Hamas from Gaza. The highest layer is the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems, which are intended to engage long-range ballistic missiles. The Arrow was first put in use on March 17, 2017, when it downed an incoming Syrian anti-aircraft missile.
“Today marks an important milestone in our joint development of cutting-edge missile defence technologies,” Netanyahu said. “We [the United States and Israel] face, both of us, increasingly sophisticated threats, but we have repeatedly demonstrated that together we can meet these challenges a lot better than any one of us could do so alone.”
“I will reiterate, that whoever wants to strike us will be beaten, and those who threaten our existence are putting their own lives at risk,” he added.
James D. Syring, head of the U.S. Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency, which helped develop David’s Sling, also attended the event, saying it marked “an important day for the security of Israel.”
“The integration of a new operational capability adds another layer to Israel’s security barrier,” Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said at the ceremony. “We are proud to operate the best and most advanced integrative defense division in the world. We are obligated to continue developing our defense capabilities while looking to the future.”
Work on David’s Sling – formerly known as Magic Wand – began in 2006, under then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and then Defense Minister Amir Peretz. The first interception test took place in 2012 and several successful tests have been carried out since then, which made the system operational.
[Photo: BICOM ]