In January 2017 Israel announced that it successfully completed a final round of tests for its David’s Sling (formerly Magic Wand) anti-aircraft system and would be able to begin deploying the first battery of the new weapon later in 2017. This deployment is a year later than expected because earlier testing had revealed some potential problems that required fixing. Israel is very exacting about such technical problems because these weapons are the first line of defense against threats that are very real and openly calling for the destruction of Israel. That attitude towards quality control also makes Israeli weapons easier to find export customers for.
David’s Sling is the Israeli replacement for existing American Patriot and Hawk systems. During 2015 Israel conducted several successful tests of David’s Sling, including some that involved included intercepting and destroying a short range ballistic missile and other targets representing manned aircraft. By late 2015 it was believed David’s Sling would be ready for deployment in 2016. But as happened several times before there were new technical problems that had to be fixed. David’s Sling was originally expected to enter service in 2014.
In development since 2006 David’s Sling was designed to be an improvement over American made Patriot systems Israel already has. The David’s Sling missile (called Stunner) has a longer range (300 kilometers) and better capabilities. The American manufacturer of Patriot is cooperating with an Israeli firm to develop and produce David’s Sling and will apparently adopt some David’s Sling features for Patriot upgrades.
David’s Sling is meant to complement the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which can take down rockets with a range of up to 70 kilometers. Iron Dome has a unique feature in which the radar system computes where the incoming rocket will land. If the rocket will not hit an inhabited area, it will be ignored. Otherwise, an interceptor missile will be fired. Stunner will be used against larger rockets that will be aimed (by Syria, Hamas or Hezbollah) at large urban areas, and these will almost always get a Stunner fired at them. This is part of the David’s Sling system for defending Israelis from rocket attacks. David’s Sling is expected to eventually replace the 17 Hawk anti-aircraft batteries as well and, eventually, the six Patriot batteries. Because of the long range of the Stunner two David’s Sling batteries can cover all of Israel.
A David’s Sling battalion would have three batteries each with six truck mounted launchers (each with four missiles), a radar vehicle and control vehicle.