Israel's defense establishment marked a success Monday morning when it completed preliminary testing on the David's Sling missile defense system, a system intended to intercept mid-range missiles, much like those used by Hezbollah.
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The Defense Ministry said Monday morning that the successful test marks a milestone in the development of the system – also known as the Magic Wand – and noted it will be operational for the Israel Air Force during 2016.
The news comes after three rockets exploded in northern Israel on Sunday evening, causing no casualties. Israel responded with artillery fire into Lebanon in an incident that followed reports in Arab media that said Israel was behind the assassination of a senior Hezbollah operative and arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar.
Nonetheless, Israeli defense official Yair Ramati told The Associated Press that the test's timing was unrelated to current tensions.
In recent days, the Defense Ministry's research and development agency, MAFAAT, and the American Missile Defense Agency held a number of tests in southern Israel, including real-time interceptions. David's Sling is built to stop mid-range missiles as well as "heavy" missiles – those with a warhead of above 10 kg.
The Defense Ministry said the system would be further developed to also be able to intercept drones and other unmanned aerial aircrafts. According to a source in the Defense Ministry, the additional development was decided on a year and a half ago and was given priority.
The IAF hopes the system will be integrated within the upcoming months. In an initial stage, the IAF will receive one Magic Wand battery, and the system will then be installed in four different parts of the country. Last July, the Defense Ministry opened its first training course for the system's operators.
The mid-range David's Sling – much like the short-ranged Iron Dome, or long-range Arrow – receive significant financial support from the U.S. In 2016, Israel requested $150 million from the U.S. to produce parts for the system in America. The system is being developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon.