Israel tests U.S.-backed missile shield as Iran nuclear talks churn
The system shot down targets simulating longer-range missiles like Scuds
A new Israeli air defense system being developed in partnership with the United States met all its objectives in a series of recent live interception tests, U.S. and Israeli officials said Wednesday, putting it on course for deployment by next year.
The system, David’s Sling, shot down targets simulating longer-range missiles like Scuds that could be fired at Israel from Syria and by Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas.
Defense sources said the more recent tests took place last week and on Tuesday. The latter coincided with international negotiations on Iran’s disputed nuclear program that have drawn censure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in turn soured his relations with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Moshe Yaalon, Israel's defense minister, cited David’s Sling as a mark of the continued vigor of the Israeli-U.S. alliance.
“We believe that next year it (David’s Sling) is going to be operational,” Yaalon told visiting U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, and added thanks for Washington’s funding.
David’s Sling and its Stunner interceptor missiles successfully hit “threat representative targets” in the tests, said Rick Lehner, spokesman for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, which carried out the third series of tests of the system together with the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO).
“This... is 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,” he said.
MDA Director Vice Admiral James Syring said Washington was pleased with the test results and vowed to continue U.S. assistance to Israel’s missile defense technology efforts.