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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sophisticated Anti-Missile Defense System Fully Functional 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, representatives of the United States military attaché to the IDF, and a host of senior IDF officials gathered at the Hatzor Air Force Base on Sunday to inaugurate the David’s Sling anti-aircraft and anti-missile system. Also attending the ceremony were IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, US Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Admiral James Syring and Israeli Air Defense Commander Brig.-Gen. Zvi Haimovitz. 

The 'David's Sling' system is designed to shoot down incoming rockets with ranges of 25 to 190 miles (40-300 kilometers), targeting mostly the missiles that were fired by the Lebanese Hezbollah organization toward Israel in recent years. It will make up the middle tier of Israel’s multi-layer missile defense capabilities, according to a Fox News report. The lowest layer is the Iron Dome system, capable of intercepting short-range rockets, small unmanned aerial vehicles and some mortar shells like those that have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip or from southern Lebanon.

In December of 2014, the Jewish Voice reported that the David’s Sling missile defense system would be put through advanced trials before being made operational. The system, also known as the "Magic Wand", was jointly developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and the US firm Raytheon Co.  The interceptor, known as "Stunner," is a two-stage missile that can reach a top speed of Mach 7.5 and consists of a "kill vehicle" with advanced steering for super maneuvering during the kill phase.

In 2005, Brig. Gen. Danny Gold, then head of Maf'at, decided to start the program that would include the system's research and a demonstration of the intercepting system. In 2007, Israel commissioned the development of Iron Dome, choosing Israeli contractor Rafael over the American giant Lockheed Martin. Israeli company mPrest Systems was put in charge of programming the core of Iron Dome's battle management system. Iron Dome went from the drawing board to combat readiness within less than four years, a remarkably short period of time for a weapons system designed from scratch, according to military experts.

On January 17, 2014, former President Obama signed the fiscal year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The bill provided $235 million for Israel to procure the Iron Dome system. The Israeli government had also agreed to spend more than half the funds the United States provides for the Iron Dome system in the United States. Funds going to U.S. contractors  increased to 30 percent in 2014 and 55 percent in 2015 from 3 percent previously, according to a U.S. Missile Defense Agency report to Congress.

On August 1, 2014, Congress approved a measure to deliver an additional $225 million in aid to Israel, with the aim of replenishing funds for the Iron Dome system in the midst of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the ceremony: "Today marks an important milestone in our joint development of cutting-edge missile defense technologies. We both face increasingly sophisticated threats, but we have repeatedly demonstrated that we can meet these challenges together a lot better than any one of us could alone."

"At a time when budgets are tight, please know that the government of Israel and the people of Israel are deeply grateful for the ongoing support by the United States of this crucial effort and the ongoing support of the United States for the general defense of Israel.

"We have pioneering technology here and Israel continues to lead the world in this field. The ingenuity of our people and the fighting spirit of our soldiers multiply our strength against our enemies and enable us not only to defend the home front but to achieve victory in battle. I ascribe very great importance to our ability to defend the home front. We have proven this in the allocation of resources and in producing interceptors and other means.

"But despite the importance that I attribute to our defensive capabilities, I reiterate: Whoever seeks to hit us – will be hit. Whoever threatens our existence – places himself in existential danger. This approach has ancient sources. Not far from here is the Ela Valley where David defeated Goliath with his sling. King David defended the People of Israel against its enemies 3,000 years ago. He did so with a combination of extraordinary daring and extraordinary ingenuity. We recognize the age-old adage 'Those who dare, win.'

"As an ancient people that treasures life, we continue to march in the path of King David. David's sword in our hand, David's Sling is in our skies and David's shield is on our flag. We will join strength to spirit and we will ensure Israel's victory."

General Zvika Haimovich, commander of the IDF air defense apparatus, said the system would significantly bolster Israel’s ability to defend itself against incoming missiles.

“David’s Sling is part of a multi-tiered defense concept to defend the State of Israel against tactical ballistic missiles,” he explained. “The threat we are dealing with is much more complex that it was in the past, and I am sure that the combination of the David’s Sling, the Iron Dome, Arrow 2, and Arrow 3 will give us a better answer to the tactical challenges we face. Behind the technology stand many incredible people, commanders and soldiers, combat support who are committed, within seconds, to fulfill their mission. We are very aware of both the significance and the responsibility of such power.”

The head of the Israeli Air Force, Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, stated during his speech that the air force “will continue to grow in our capabilities and defense abilities in a turbulent Middle East and the new technology we received will bring the air force to a whole new level of defense for the State of Israel."

Defense Minister Lieberman added:”When we look at the world map, we notice a small pin called Israel, surrounded by 58 Muslim states, with a combined population of 1.6 billion people, stretching from the Middle East to Kyrgyzstan. The only way to deal with this reality is vision, genius, and security.” 

The director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Navy Vice Admiral James D. Syring, said in his remarks that the delivery of this system was due to years of hard work and heralds a "new tier of aerial defense.”

“It is an impressive day for an already impressive year," he said, referring to developments and testing of several different aerial defense systems.

However, with Hezbollah expected to fire more than 1,000 rockets per day in a future conflict with Israel, military and political officials have warned that even the three layers of missile defense will not be capable to maintaining a 100 percent success rate.

By: Andrew Friedman