Israel is on track to field the short-range missile interception system known as David's Sling in 2014 in accordance with the country's preparations to better defend itself against missile attacks, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
David's Sling is designed to neutralize tactical cruise and ballistic missiles and rockets. It can eliminate targets at distances of up to 180 miles, according to an official with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which co-created the weapon with U.S. defense contractor Raytheon. The system is part of Israel's developing multilayered missile and air defense framework.
"We'll be able to intercept threats at high altitude in enemy territories, not exactly over Israel," the anonymous Rafael official said. "We don't want it falling on us, but over the enemy."
An unidentified Israeli defense official said David's Sling had already succeeded in multiple early trials though an initial missile interception test has yet to take place.
The lowest layer of Israel's missile shield -- Iron Dome -- went online in 2011 and has the capability of destroying rockets fired from as far away as 50 miles.
Israel's operational Arrow missile interception system is intended to protect against missiles fired from longer distances. The future generation exoatmospheric Arrow 3 interceptor, aimed at defeating ballistic missiles launched by Iran, is slated to be fielded in 2016.
Additionally, the Israeli military has deployed Patriot interceptors supplied by the United States to counter possible medium-range missile strikes.
Iran holds missiles with fight ranges of up to 1,200 miles, AP reported.
Besides that threat, Israel faces many rocket and missile attack threats from its immediate neighbors. Militants in the Gaza Strip in recent days resumed launching rockets into Israel. In nearby Lebanon, Hezbollah possesses a substantial arsenal of missiles capable of striking any target in Israel with a high degree of precision. Syria, meanwhile, is feared as a potential source of chemical-weapon strikes via ballistic missiles.
Ex-Israeli antimissile program chief Uzi Rubin said David's Sling would close a "significant gap" in his nation's defenses by providing a bulwark against medium-range missiles launched from Lebanon or Syria.
"Once we finish David's Sling and Iron Dome and the Arrow, then we'll have the most advanced capability available to give a multilayer protection to Israeli citizens," the anonymous Israeli official said.