Rising Interest in Europe for Israeli Developed David’s Sling Air Defence System

By Arie Egozi

Defence Industry

Tel Aviv: The Israeli developed David’s Sling air defence system is creating big interest in Europe. This interest began before the current war and resulted in Finland purchasing the system. Switzerland also wanted the purchase the system but the US has not approved the sale. Made by Rafael, the David’s Sling will be supplied to Finland under a Euro 316 million contract.

The Swiss ministry of defence also wanted to acquire the system but the required US approval was not granted. This resulted in additional deals signed by the Swiss ministry of defence to purchase the very advanced US made Patriot air defence systems. David’s Sling was developed jointly by Rafael and US company Raytheon and therefore Washington has to approve its export.

“David’s Sling” is an advanced missile defence system that is co-developed and co-produced by the Israel Ministry of Defence’s IMDO and the US Missile Defence Agency. The industrial team is led by Rafael Advanced Systems. The system intercepts advanced threats including ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, drones and more.

In the ongoing war with the Hamas terror organisation in Gaza, the David’s Sling scored another successful intercept. On October 13, the Hamas launched its largest and heaviest rocket, dubbed “Ayesh 250” towards Northern Israel. The target, according to Hamas was the headquarters of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Northern Command in Safed, the largest city in the Upper Galilee, about 180 km from the Gaza Strip. The rocket was intercepted and destroyed by Israel’s David Sling medium-range air and missile defence system. The debris of the rocket fell in a waste recycling facility in northern Israel, dozens of kilometres short of the intended target.

According to Dr Uzi Rubin, Hamas gives its rockets compound names, consisting of the name of a “Shahid” (martyr) and a number that advertises the range of that specific rocket in kilometres. Thus, “Ayesh 250” means that the rocket is designed to achieve a range of 250 km.

Dr Rubin was founder and first director (1991-1999) of the Israel Missile Defence Organisation in the Israel Ministry of Defence, which developed, produced and deployed the country’s first national defence shield – the Arrow missile.

In a paper that Rubin wrote for the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, he says that the “Ayesh 250” may well be an indigenous Hamas design, probably the work of Jamal Al Zabada, the Palestinian/American rocket engineer and a graduate of a leading US technological institute, who joined Hamas in the early 2000s and became the chief engineer of the Gaza military industry.

The Hamas fired a single “Ayesh 250” on May 13, 2021, targeting the Ramon International Airport near Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat. It reportedly missed the airport and fell somewhere in the South Negev district. No information was released by the IDF about the range it achieved in this shot.

According to Dr Rubin, David’s Sling uses a high altitude, very agile interceptor, heavier (and costlier) than Iron Dome. It was designed to shoot down heavy long-range rockets as well as aircraft.