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The defense partnership between the United States and Israel is set to reap the benefits of perhaps its greatest combined innovation to date.

Israel will soon add a revolutionary new missile defense system to its defense arsenal, a senior Israeli Air Force official said Monday. Known as “David’s Sling,” or “Magic Wand,” the joint U.S.-Israel creation will become fully operational at the beginning of April.

David’s Sling will protect Israel from medium-range missiles, as part of its three-tier defense system that also guards the country’s citizens from smaller short-range rockets and long-range ballistic threats.

Iron Dome, which achieved incredible success (with a 90 percent interception rate) in Israel’s latest flare-up with the Hamas terrorist group in 2014, guards the country against short-range threats. Multiple Iron Dome batteries are often activated amid conflict so Israel can deter threats aiming to overwhelm the systems.

Its Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 systems protect against long-range ballistic threats. The newly deployed Arrow was used for the first time on Friday to intercept a 440-pound missile fired from Syria. According to the Associated Press, the Syrian missile targeted Israeli jets returning from a strike on a Hezbollah weapons convoy.

David’s Sling, Iron Dome and Arrow have all been developed jointly by Israel and the United States, highlighting the successes and innovation produced by the defense partnership.

"In the next two weeks we will declare operational the David's Sling and at that time we will have completed our multi-tier (defence capability)," an Israeli official said. "I'm sure that together with the Iron Dome and the Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 it will enhance our ability to deal with threats.”

David’s Sling has been jointly developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense company Raytheon. It is promoted as a more advanced version of the U.S.-made Patriot surface-to-air missile.

Much of the $3.1 billion in annual aid Israel receives from the United States goes toward bolstering the aforementioned missile defense projects. The defense shield can fire upon and target both enemy aircraft and incoming cruise missiles. David’s Sling has a range three times that of the Iron Dome, and the integrated system can undergo constant upgrades.

Israel faces a variety of threats from several local terrorist groups and enemy states, which include Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and ISIS, to name a handful.


Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for CR. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel

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