June 20 - Once shrouded in secrecy, Israel's David's Sling missile interceptor went on display for the first time this week at the Paris Air Show. Its co-manufacturers, Rafael, say the system is designed to compliment the Iron Dome defensive shield used in the Gaza conflict, and will be operational within two years. Jim Drury went to take a look.
Co-developed by US firm Raytheon and Israeli company Rafael, David's Sling is a missile defense system designed to safeguard Israeli citizens from attack. The Sling is capable of intercepting incoming rockets more than 160 kilometres away. Until now all that's been seen of it is a brief video handout of a secret desert test last November. But this week Yossi Horowitz, business development director at Rafael, showed off one of the missiles at the Paris Air Show. SOUNDBITE (English) YOSSI HOROWITZ, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING DIRECTOR OF RAFAEL, MANUFACTURERS OF DAVID'S SLING, SAYING: "First of all there is no battery, the battery definition is not relevant for David's Sling. We are talking about a unit, so there is a sensor, radars, it can be one, two or more, commandered control, and launchers. Every launcher has about 12 interceptors." The radar and sensors are installed in the Sling's dolphin-shaped nose-tip. Also known as the Stunner, the missile is part of a three-tier system. It will be used as a bridge between the existing Iron Dome system, which intercepts short-range rockets, and the Arrow, targeting ballistic missiles. SOUNDBITE (English) YOSSI HOROWITZ, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING DIRECTOR OF RAFAEL, MANUFACTURERS OF DAVID'S SLING, SAYING: "Iron Dome is point defence. It can protect a mid-sized city in Israel at some level of altitude, but David's Sling defeats all the threats up to very high altitude, very high altitiude, very long range, we are talking about more than 160 kilometre range. It's totally different. The footprint that Iron Dome protected, (I mean) that David's Sling protected, is huge. Huge." Israeli officials say the Stunner will block rockets too fast and powerful for Iron Dome and ballistic missiles missed by Arrow. It could also repel Cruise missiles. Horowitz says David's Sling will be ready for deployment within two years.