A remarkable series of photos have emerged showing the final moments when an Israeli air defense missile destroys a rocket launched by a militant organization. Although the particular air defense system that fired the interceptor missile is unconfirmed, Rafael, the manufacturer of the medium-range David’s Sling system used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), has just announced the first operational intercept using this weapon, apparently also against a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip.
Attributed to Israeli photojournalist Gilad Kfir, the photos in question show, at first, the interceptor missile, its engine blazing, heading straight for the targeted rocket, on a clean collision course. The intercepted projectile was claimed to be a Badr-3 unguided rocket, a weapon used by the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest Islamist militant group in the Gaza Strip, after the Hamas. Although it cannot be confirmed, the weapon in the first photo certainly matches its appearance.
It has been suggested that the Badr-3 was designed in Iran specifically for use by its proxies across the Middle East, and it is simple enough for them to produce it locally. Very similar to the Al-Qassim rocket, also of Iranian design, the Badr-3 is supposed to carry a warhead weighing between 660 and 880 pounds, providing considerably more destructive power than most Palestinian rockets, but that will come with a proportional reduction in range.
The following photos show the fireball left behind after the interceptor missile hit its target, with devastating effect.
Some accounts suggest that the interceptor missile was fired from one of the IDF’s Iron Dome air defense systems, which uses the Tamir missile, and was originally designed to intercept incoming rockets and other shells. artillery. The Iron Dome has already proven itself in battle on thousands of occasions. However, he primarily uses a proximity fuze, which detonates his kinetic warhead near the target, but he can also directly hit the target due to his very high degree of accuracy. You can read more about Tamir and his abilities here.
The Tamir missile used by Iron Dome. Raphael https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfoIZ5RbyEw
On the other hand, the missile fired by the David’s Sling system uses only a strike-to-kill concept – it relies on the interceptor slamming into the target to destroy it. This type of engagement is more consistent with what we see in the photos, but both missiles are capable of this intercept profile.
The missile used in the David’s Sling system – known as the Stunner – is about 15 feet long in a full turn, that is, with the first and second stage. From this perspective, the booster-like first stage would have already fallen, leaving the interceptor second stage to do its destructive work. As it stands, the general similarities in appearance between the Tamir and Stunner missiles again rule out a definitive identification.
While the missile fired by David’s Sling features an unusual ‘dolphin’ shaped nose profile to house its dual-mode seeker assembly, the low resolution of the first photo means that this identification point is also not immediately obvious.
The Stunner interceptor and booster, the export version of the same missile used by the David’s Sling system. Raphael
Whether it was a coincidence or not, just hours before photos of the rocket intercept appeared on social media, Israeli defense company Rafael posted a tweet stating that David’s Sling system was “officially proven in combat”. The statement continued: “In the past 24 hours, the IDF conducted its first operational intercept using Rafael’s David’s Sling system over the skies of central Israel against a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip.
This would certainly correspond to the period of the rocket intercept photos, although it is also possible that they show an iron dome. At this point, it’s simply not possible to say with authority whether they show the first use of the David’s Sling system, but the timing of their appearance is certainly remarkable.
As for David’s Sling, this system became operational with the IDF as early as 2017, although – officially at least – it was not used in an operational interception until this week. It is not clear if any failed interception attempts took place or are factored into this claim. In addition to larger artillery rockets, David’s Sling is intended to shoot down short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), aircraft, drones, and cruise missiles. Earlier this year, David’s Sling won its first export order, from newly created NATO member Finland, a deal you can read about here.
As such, it comprises the mid-to-upper tier of Israel’s layered air defense system, fitting between the Iron Dome and the upper-tier Arrow ballistic missile defense system, with the Patriot system somewhere in between. between the two.
Each David’s Sling system includes a vertical launcher containing up to 12 interceptor missiles.
A David’s Sling launcher fires a missile during testing. Finnish Ministry of Defense
The aforementioned unusual angled “dolphin” nose of the interceptor missile contains active infrared and radar seekers. The use of a dual-mode seeker means the missile is much more resistant to jamming or hostile decoys and makes it better suited to attack a wider range of targets, with different signatures and flight profiles , ranging from SRBMs to stealth cruise missiles.
Additional reliability is provided by an on-board data link, which can feed the missile with targeting data from third-party sensors, the main source of information being the Elta ELM-2084 3D Active Electronically Scanned Radar (AESA).
Its two-stage propulsion system also offers significant advantages. Importantly, higher energy and maneuverability levels ensure that the hit-to-kill second stage finds its target, even when maneuvering at high speeds. Not having to pack that second stage and a warhead and explosive rocket assembly also means overall weight is reduced, again contributing to speed and agility, as well as overall range. The missile’s range is said to be between 150 and nearly 200 miles, although most engagements are likely to take place at much shorter ranges, especially if they involve unguided rockets, as seen here.
The Stunner missile, without its propellant, was also tested as an air-launched weapon.
As to why the IDF used David’s Sling to engage a rocket (whether the one seen in the intercept photos or not) is less clear. However, while the IDF’s Iron Dome is optimized to engage rockets of this type, as well as smaller projectiles, such as artillery shells, this system has a relatively limited range of a few tens of kilometers or less – the most engagements occurring at much shorter ranges. With that in mind, it’s possible that David’s Sling was the best option for squashing this particularly large rocket before it flew over a populated area, or perhaps it was assigned to target a rocket aimed at an area otherwise. not as well covered by an iron dome.
There is also the question of the costs involved when using David’s Sling for a target like this. Each missile fired by the system costs around $1 million, well beyond the cost of building an unguided rocket. On the other hand, Israel has always sought to establish a high-performance, multi-layered air defense system that is effective against all kinds of threats. After all, investing in reliable air defenses will always be a costly endeavor, but driven by the simple requirement of protecting lives and infrastructure at all costs. Even with the much cheaper Tamir, priced between $40,000 and $100,000, there is a huge gap between it and the basic rockets and mortar rounds it intercepts very frequently. This is a question that we have also explored in the past.
The David’s Sling system launches a missile. Israeli Ministry of Defense
The volume of rockets launched against Israel has also increased dramatically in recent days, with Israeli and Gazan militants locked in a new round of fighting that has left dozens dead, most of them Palestinians.
The latest violence erupted on Tuesday when Israel killed three leading members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, the first in a series of strikes designed to eliminate some of its figureheads.
Islamic Jihad said its latest barrage of rockets was a “response to the assassinations and continued aggression against the Palestinian people”.
Rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel on May 12, 2023. Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images
According to its own account, the IDF hit 170 Islamic Jihad targets this week, while more than 860 rockets were fired from Gaza.
With the possibility of an Egyptian-brokered peace deal having seemingly evaporated, there is no obvious end in sight to the current fighting. This means that it is quite possible that David’s Sling will be put into action again.
https://twitter.com/ywnreporter/status/165636480976262657?s=20 https://twitter.com/auroraintel/status/1657055957136932864?s=20 https://twitter 6380345808310273? S = 20
At this time, it’s unclear whether the dramatic photos that have surfaced over the past 24 hours truly show the combat debut of David’s Sling or the well-established Iron Dome. However, Rafael’s announcement at least demonstrates how Israel continues to expand its multi-layered capabilities to defeat a range of threats, from the highest-tech weapons to the fairly primitive unguided rockets that are currently at the center of its energies in the battle against the militants in Gaza.
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org