First operational use of david’s sling missile intercept system as sirens sound on Golan Heights

July 24, 2018 by Yona Schnitzer - TPS
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Sirens sounded throughout the Galilee and the southern Golan Heights on Monday morning, as the IDF fired off two David’s Sling interception missiles after launches of two SS-21 ballistic missiles were identified in southern Syria.

Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS

The Syrian rocket launches, which later turned out to be the product of fighting inside the country, were not directed towards Israel, and ultimately landed in Syrian territory. However, the decision to employ the David’s Sling was made due to the risk the rockets may land in Israeli territory.

“Following the reports of sirens sounding in northern Israel, it was concluded that the rockets were from internal fighting in Syria where they later fell,” the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement, “In response to the threat, the IDF launched 2 David’s Sling aerial defense system interceptors. No injuries or damage reported.”

Despite ultimately being a false alarm, this was the first time the David’s Sling missile defense system has been put to operational use since it was incorporated into the IDF aerial defense network in April of 2017.

The David’s Sling, originally named the Magic Wand, was developed in a joint endeavor with the US Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and is designed to intercept missiles with a range of 40-300 kilometers. It is the second level of Israel’s three-tiered aerial defense network, with the Iron Dome at the lowest level, aimed at intercepting low-grade rockets such as Hamas’ Qassams, and the Arrow system, based on the American Patriot Missile system standing atop the pyramid, with the purpose of intercepting long-range ballistic missiles.

The incident was the third time this month that sirens sounded in the region: On July 11, IDF forces downed an unmanned aerial vehicle about 10 kilometers inside Israeli territory. Two days later, the army fired a fired a Patriot missile at a Syrian army drone over the no-man’s land between Israel and Syria.

Speaking about the reasons the David’s Sling was employed this time, former head of the Israeli Air Defense Command Brig. Gen. (Res) Ilan Bitton told the Israel Broadcasting Corporation (Kan) that “There is synchronicity between the [different missile] systems. When a certain system is the one to fire, it was probably the best and most available option.” Bitton said that in his estimation the IDF thought the Syrian missiles may land in Israel and opted to intercept them.

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