Air Defense: Israeli Patriot Replacement


December 13, 2012: In late November, after Hamas agreed to a truce and stopped firing rockets for Israel’s Iron Dome system to shoot down, Israel conducted tests for another new anti-aircraft system. This one is called David’s Sling (or Magic Wand) and the Stunner missile used by that system hit the target. A year ago the United States agreed to invest over $100 million in development of this system and the success of the recent tests seems to have justified that. David's Sling is being developed as a replacement for the American Patriot system. The Stunner missiles have a longer range (250 kilometers) and better capabilities than Patriot. The American manufacturer of Patriot is cooperating with work on David’s Sling and the U.S. investment gives America access to any new technology. David’s Sling is expected to be ready for service in two years and would eventually replace Israeli Hawk and Patriot anti-aircraft batteries. The Hawk system was replaced by Patriot in the United States but is still used by many other countries. Israel sees a big export market for David’s Sling.

The Stunner missile is yet another development of the Israeli Python heat seeking air-to-air missile. Stunner apparently came out of the work to develop the Spyder anti-aircraft missile. Stunner is a two stage missile that can hit targets 70-250 kilometers away. Israel has released little information about Stunner, other than that it has two stages and uses multiple sensors. Given its origins and configuration Stunner probably weighs less than a ton.

A shorter range version of the Stunner technology is used in Spyder, which is a mobile short range system. Spyder launchers (truck mounted, with four box like launch cells each) can carry either the Python 5 heat seeking missile (3.22 meters/ten feet long, 105 kg/231 pounds, with a range of 15 kilometers) or the Derby radar guided missile (3.6 meters/11.2 feet long, 122 kg/267 pounds, with a range of 65 kilometers). The Derby is actually a larger Python, with more fuel and a different guidance system. Stunner appears to be a slightly longer Spyder/Derby missile with dual seekers in the nose.

The Spyder radar system has a maximum range of 100 kilometers. The missiles can hit targets as high as 9 kilometers (28,000 feet) and as low as 20 meters (65 feet). With boosters (to increase speed at launch) and the right seekers, a modified Spyder could take down incoming long-range rockets.

David’s Sling depends on longer range radars to get target location and speed information to the Spyder/Magic Wand launchers. Once launched, the Stunner is guided to the general location of the incoming rocket until the Stunner's on-board sensors pick it up and then home in and destroy the long range rocket.




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