Israel last week carried out an initial operational exercise of a recently developed system for defeating medium-range missiles, Reuters on Sunday quoted government insiders as saying.
David's Sling, also known as Magic Wand, destroyed a mock enemy projectile in the drill conducted last Tuesday. The event took place as Israel exchanged heavy fire with Hamas forces in Gaza.
Tel Aviv has been expediting U.S.-backed efforts to prepare a number of antimissile technologies amid concerns over growing threats from the Palestinian territory as well as Iran, Lebanon and Syria. "Given the general sense of urgency," the government reached the testing milestone for David's Sling months earlier than originally planned, according to an Israeli security sector insider.
Components in the newly tested system are comparable to parts in Israel's Iron Dome weapon, according to Reuters. The latter technology -- described by Israeli government personnel as a measure against shorter-range weaponry -- hit 421 projectiles launched from Gaza during an eight-day clash that was suspended last week.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in prepared remarks said finishing the David's Sling project would provide "a significant layer for Israel's multitiered antimissile defense system."
The weapon is expected to be fielded by 2014 as a means of defending Israel against ballistic and cruise missiles capable of traveling up to 180 miles.
Israeli government personnel said David's Sling is designed to hit weapons capable of evading the Iron Dome technology as well as Israel's Arrow ballistic missile defenses. Various iterations of the Arrow technology is intended to destroy farther-flying missiles from Iran and Syria at distances suited to safely neutralize any weapons of mass destruction they might carry.
In Wednesday remarks to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Obama "said that he was committed to seeking additional funding for Iron Dome and other U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs,” Roll Call quoted the White House as saying in written comments.