Sunday, October 14, 2007

David's Sling

Two days ago Haaretz TV featured a clip on the introduction of David's Sling (known in Israel as Kela David):

(Sorry, it is really annoying that the video starts automatically, but I could not find the command in the iframe source code to turn this off)

David's sling is a co-production between the Israel's RAFAEL (Armaments Development Authority) and the U.S. military contractor Raytheon. In May this year it was announced that the United States would provide $45 million for this project. The system is expected to be ready for operational testing within two years and operational within four years.

The available information about the purpose of this missile are contradictory. The Haaretz clip states that this new missile is designed to intercept Katyusha rockets. Another source reports that the system's purpose is to defend against Fajr missiles. According to this source, a defense against the shorter range Katyusha rockets is not provided. A third source mentions that David's Sling is being developed as a response against missiles with a range of 40-250 km, namely Syrian-made 220mm and 302mm Katyushas and Iranian-made Zilzal missiles.

Let's take a look at the range of these rockets:

(c) BBC News, Hezbollah's rocket force

David's Sling is designed to intercept its targets in the terminal phase of their flight paths. If we take the 40-250 km range of rockets that are seen as potential targets for David's Sling, the system could not take down the first generation of Katyushas, BM-21, which have a range of 20 km. In contrast to that the BM-27 and the Fajr-3, also dubbed as third-generation Katyusha, have a range of 40 and 45 km, respectively, which makes them potential targets. Both Fajr-3 and Zelzal-2 fall also within the operational range of David's Sling.

However, this system still gives Israel no protection against the short-range Kassams which range up to 10 km. During the year 2006 alone, more than 1000 of these rockets were launched against Israel. To counter them, Israel is seperately developing Iron Dome, a system which utilizes a kinetic interceptor to knock down Kassams.

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