David’s Sling – Israel’s Flawed Missile Defense System

Israel's Flawed Missile Defense System

This article was last updated on October 11, 2023

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David’s Sling – Israel’s Flawed Missile Defense System

With Hamas being able to successfully defeat Israel’s high tech border protection technology, I thought that a brief look at one of the latest additions to the nation’s border defences would be timely.  While most of us have heard of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, the David’s Sling system is less well known among the general public.


David’s Sling (aka the Magic Wand (Hebrew designation))  is a key part of Israel’s multi-tier layered missile defense system which includes the Iron Dome and upper-tier Arrow systems.  The David’s Sling Weapons System (DSWS) is designed to intercept ballistic and cruise missiles at ranges of between 40 to 300 kilometres.  It consists of the following:


1.) a trailer-mounted vertical missile firing unit which can hold up to 12 missiles with all firing units being manufactured in the United States.


2.) an ELM-2084 fire control radar unit which can operate in both surveillance mode or fire control mode, a battle management/operator station.  The ELM-2084 can track up to 1100 targets at a range of 474 kilometres and can scan a 120-degree azimuth.  By rotating its antenna array at 30 rotations per minute, it can provide 360 degree surveillance.  When the ELM-2084 is in fire mode, it can track up to 200 targets a minute at a range of up to 100 kilometres.


3.) the Stunner interceptor missile, parts of which are manufactured in the United States.   The Stunner is a two-stage, 4.7 metre long missile with a range of between 40 and 300 kilometres and can intercept targets at altitudes of up to 15 kilometres.  The Stunner uses a three-pulse solid propellant motor to reach speeds of up to Mach 7.5 with the first two pulses accelerating the missile through its initial trajectory and the third pulse accelerating and maneuvering the interceptor to destroy its target.  Unlike Iron Dome’s missile system, the Stunner is not equipped with a warhead, rather, it uses its kinetic energy to strike and destroy incoming missiles.  Each Stunner missile has an estimated cost of $1 million.


The first test flight of the DSWS took place on November 20, 2012 and, after the fourth successful test, the Israeli Air Force formally inducted the system into service in March 2017.  It’s first successful combat engagement took place on July 23, 2018 when Israel engaged two Syrian OTR-21 Tochka or SS-21 short-range ballistic missiles, both of which fell short of falling in Israeli territory.


David’s Sling is a joint product of two companies as follows:


1.) Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Limited (Israel):


Israel's Flawed Missile Defense System


Rafael claims the following benefits and capabilities for David’s Sling:



Innovative technologies, lethal hit-to-kill interceptor

High probability of kill against a broad spectrum of current and projected air and missile defense threats

Designed for “plug and play” insertion into fielded air and missile defense systems – open architecture

Next-generation multi-sensor seeker

Cost effective


Large interception envelope

Effectively intercepts threats during saturation attack

Precision hit-to-kill aim point selection at end game

The launcher carries up to 12 stunner interceptors, launched in a near-vertical orientation.

Multi-pulse propulsion, next-generation seeker


Here is a video from Rafael with some additional information on David’s Sling:



2.) Raytheon:


Israel's Flawed Missile Defense System

Raytheon also touts the abilities of David’s Sling as follows with my bold:


David’s Sling comprises the multi-pulse Stunner missile, which uses sophisticated sensors and control systems and an active electronically scanned array, or AESA, multi-mission radar for targeting and guidance. Repeated testing has proven the system’s ability to destroy large torrents of high-caliber rockets and short-range ballistic missiles.


Or maybe not.


Let’s close with this video showing the first successful implementation of David’s Sling against Gaza rockets from just 4 short months ago:


And, here’s what Israel’s Defense Ministry had to say about the David’s Sling system in July 2023:

Israel's Flawed Missile Defense System

Perhaps the latest in Israeli high tech defense was simply overwhelmed by the use of thousands of Gaza rockets in a very short time frame despite Raytheon’s belief that it is capable of “destroying large torrents of high-calibre rockets and short-range ballistic missiles”.  Maybe it’s back to the drawing board for both Rafael and Raytheon as it’s pretty clear that the technologically inferior Palestinian fighters were able to defeat one of the most technologically advanced missile defense systems in the world.

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