JERUSALEM Nov 26 A more powerful version of the
interceptor system that Israel said downed 90 percent of rockets
fired by Gaza militants before a ceasefire last week should be
ready for deployment within three years, an aerospace official
said on Monday.
He said Israel would need only one or two batteries of the
"David's Sling" system, touted as its answer to the longer-range
missiles of Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas and Syria, after word
on Sunday that it has passed its first live trial.
Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired brigadier-general who formerly
designed strategic weapon systems for the Defence Ministry and
now heads the Israel Space Agency, said in a radio interview
that David's Sling was intended to shoot down rockets with
ranges of between 100 km and 200 km (63 miles and 125 miles).
The new system would link between the Iron Dome system that
countered short-range rockets from Gaza and the Arrow ballistic
missile interceptor, also already deployed, to form a
multi-level shield that Israel is pursuing with U.S. help to
fend off threats from Iran and its allies on the Jewish state's
"With a system like David's Sling, you can see a missile
coming from a long way away, before it strikes," Ben-Israel told
Army Radio. "You can make do with one national battery, perhaps
two." Asked when David's Sling would be ready for deployment,
he said: "Two or three years from today, I reckon."
Also known as Magic Wand, David's Sling is being jointly
developed by state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd and
U.S. firm Raytheon Co.
Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, called the
David's Sling test "another milestone in missile defence
cooperation" between the countries.
Israel has deployed five out of a projected total of 13 Iron
Dome units. During eight days of Gaza clashes this month, Iron
Dome had a 90 percent success rate, intercepting 421 rockets
launched from the Palestinian enclave, Israeli officials said.
Iron Dome has had setbacks, however, in countering
short-range mortar fire from Gaza. Ben-Israel said work was
under way on another new system that would block such attacks
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)