Israel successfully completed a test of its new David's Sling missile defense system, which is expected to become fully operational in 2016.
The David's Sling system uses Stunner interceptor missiles to stop medium- and long-range rockets and cruise missiles and will work along side the already-in-place Iron Dome and Arrow defense systems.
Israel Hayom reports:
David's Sling is designed to intercept medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges of 40 kilometers (24.85 miles) to 300 kilometers (186.4 miles). Once operational it would provide an important tool in protecting Israel against Hezbollah.
Together with the Iron Dome and Arrow defense systems, David's Sling is part of Israel's multi-tier missile defense program. Iron Dome is designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to 70 kilometers (43 miles), while the Arrow series comprises long-range missile interceptors.
"We believe that next year it's going to be operational," Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told journalists at an appearance with visiting U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday. With Boehner nodding in agreement, Ya'alon said the project was an example of strong U.S.-Israeli relations.
Israeli officials are hopeful David's Sling will eventually be capable of intercepting unmanned aerial vehicles.
The test was carried out with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, which called the test a "a major milestone in the development of the David's Sling weapon and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defend against the developing threat."
Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) released a statement on Thursday congratulating Israel on the success of David's Sling and said that he is fighting to secure further funding for Israeli missile defense programs.
"I congratulate Israel, a vibrant democracy and America's most important ally in the Middle East, on its latest successful test David's Sling," said Kirk. "I am renewing efforts this year to once again secure funding for U.S.-Israel cooperation on David's Sling, Arrow, and Iron Dome at levels that fully meet Israel's security requirements."