The decision to destroy one of the David's Sling interceptor missiles in midair last Monday was the right decision, according to the Israeli Air Force's (IAF) comprehensive debriefing following the system's failure to intercept two SS-21 Syrian missiles its first attempt.
Israel's launched its David's Sling air defence system for its first ever operational mission on Monday as a precauation against rockets fired within neighboring Syria, setting off sirens in northern Israeli communities, the IDF said.
The rockets fell inside Syrian territory and were part of internal fighting, a military statement said.
"After identifying the threat and considering our tight schedule, the decision-making process was correct," IAF officials said.
It was published last week that the decision to destroy one of the interceptor missiles near the Kinneret might be the wrong decision, as in hindsight the interceptor could have continued its flight until possibly hitting the large target coming from the southeast.
"The additional technical aspects of the incident cannot be published out of information security considerations. All conclusions drawn in the debriefing will be implemented in the aerial defense system," The IDF's Spokesperson's Unit asserted.
The cause of the failure is likely technological in nature, and not related to the Air Force operators of the system, who made a reasonable decision to launch the two interceptor missiles from the David's Sling permanent site in the north.
Unlike the Iron Dome system, David's Sling is not mobile. But much like the Arrow systems, David's Sling provides coverage from its stationary location to the entire country.
The initial investigation found that the predicted impact point of the two Syrian missiles, which were in the air for 1-1.5 minutes, was deep in Israel's northern region. Therefore, the decision to launch the interceptor missiles was justified, though it might not have been economically justified, since the cost of each missile is $1 million.
The operators' decision not to take any chances stemmed from range calculations. The distance between the location of the David's Sling in the north of Israel and the possible interception point with the two Syrian missiles was over 100 km, whereas the maximal range of the SS-21 missiles is 70 km, meaning that the David's Sling's flying speed was critical.
Inquiry teams made up of representatives from the manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Defense Ministry's Missile Defense Organization (MDO) and the Israel Air Force launched an investigation into the incident Monday morning over the Golan Heights.
David's Sling was used last Monday in order to intercept the two Soviet-made surface-to-surface SS-21 missiles, which were fired by the Syrian army against the rebels. The missiles, which are called SS-21 by NATO, are called "Tochka" in Russian, meaning "dot"—an indication of their precision.
The SS-21 missiles were developed in the 1970s by the Soviet Union and sold to the Syrian army. The missile's range is 14-70 kilometers. It weighs 2.5 ton, 480 kilograms of which make up the warhead that scatters spray as it hits its target. Its diameter is 65 centimeters. The SS-21 is fired from a single launcher, such as a truck, and is directed in air by wingtip devices.
The Israeli defense systems can recognize and categorize the SS-21 missile within seconds and respond accordingly.