Finland has made the decision to buy the David’s Sling air-defence system from Israel, becoming the first foreign customer of the advanced weapon system. The deal, which was announced on April 5, is worth €316 million ($345 million) and includes options for further expansion. The purchase comes just after Finland joined NATO as its 31st member, amid growing tensions with Russia in the region.
David’s Sling is a joint project between Israel and the US, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon Technologies. It is designed to intercept a wide range of aerial threats, such as ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and drones, at ranges of 40 to 300 kilometres (25 to 180 miles). The system uses a two-stage interceptor called Stunner or Skyceptor, which has a multi-pulse rocket motor and a dual-mode seeker for high accuracy and manoeuvrability.
The Finnish Ministry of Defence said that the acquisition will provide a new capability for the Finnish Defence Forces to intercept targets at high altitudes, with a minimum flight altitude requirement of 15,000 meters (49,000 feet). The system will also enhance Finland’s interoperability with other NATO allies and partners, as well as its contribution to collective defence and crisis management.
The deal will involve cooperation between Israeli, American and Finnish industries, led by Rafael and Raytheon. The agreement will also include a separate part between the Israeli Ministry of Defence and the Finnish Ministry of Defence to ensure the security of the supply of the system. The sale is subject to US approval, as David’s Sling uses American technology and components.
David’s Sling has been operational with the Israel Defense Forces since 2017, as part of Israel’s multi-layered air defence system, which also includes Iron Dome for short-range rockets and Arrow for long-range ballistic missiles. The system has successfully intercepted several threats during tests and operational scenarios. Finland’s decision to buy David’s Sling reflects its confidence in the system’s performance and reliability, as well as its strategic partnership with Israel and the US.
David’s Sling air-defence system
Israel is known for its advanced and multi-layered air-defence system, which includes the Iron Dome, the Arrow, and the Iron Beam. But there is another system that has recently become operational and is designed to fill a critical gap in Israel’s defence capabilities: David’s Sling.
David’s Sling, also known as Magic Wand, is a joint project between Israel and the United States, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon Missiles and Defense. It is a medium to long-range surface-to-air / anti-ballistic missile system that can intercept enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 to 300 km (25 to 190 mi).
The system’s name comes from the biblical story of David and Goliath, symbolizing Israel’s ability to overcome seemingly overwhelming threats. David’s Sling is meant to replace the older MIM-23 Hawk and MIM-104 Patriot systems in the Israeli arsenal and to complement the other layers of Israel’s missile defence system.
The system consists of four main components: a vertical missile firing unit, an ELM-2084 fire control radar, a battle management/operator station, and the Stunner interceptor missile. The Stunner is a two-stage missile with a hit-to-kill kinetic warhead that can reach speeds of up to Mach 7.5. It has a dual electro-optical/imaging infrared (EO/IR) sensor and a radar seeker for terminal guidance, as well as a datalink for midcourse guidance from the ground-based radar. The Stunner can intercept targets at altitudes of up to 15 km (9 mi) and ranges between 40 and 300 km (25 and 190 mi).
David’s Sling has been in development since 2006 and has undergone several successful tests since 2012. In April 2017, the system became operational and was deployed by the Israel Defense Forces. In July 2018, David’s Sling was used for the first time in combat, when it fired two interceptors at Syrian SS-21 Tochka missiles that were launched towards Israel. However, the interceptors were self-destructed after it became clear that the Syrian missiles would land in Syrian territory.
David’s Sling is a significant addition to Israel’s air-defence system, as it provides a solution for threats that are too fast or too high for Iron Dome, but too low or too slow for Arrow. It also enhances Israel’s deterrence against its adversaries in the region, such as Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria, who possess large arsenals of rockets and missiles that can target Israel’s population centres and strategic sites.
David’s Sling is not only important for Israel’s security but also for its cooperation with the United States and other allies. The system is partly funded by U.S. aid, and some of its components are manufactured in the United States. The system also uses NATO-standard communication protocols, which enable interoperability with other air-defence systems of NATO members. Moreover, David’s Sling has attracted interest from other countries that are looking for advanced air-defence solutions, such as Poland, Romania, Finland, India, and Singapore.