The day after its accession to NATO, Finland announced that it will acquire Israel’s Honda anti-missile defense system from David (David’s Sling in English) in an initial deal worth some 316 million euros. “This system will significantly expand the operational range of Finland’s ground-based air defense capabilities,” the Baltic country’s executive statement said.
“This acquisition will create a new capability for the Finnish Defense Forces to intercept targets at high altitude. At the same time, we are continuing the ambitious and long-term development of Finland’s defense capability in a new security environment,” said Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen.
This Israel Defense Forces system, jointly developed by Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and US company Raytheon, has been designed to intercept enemy aircraft, drones, ballistic missiles, medium and long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 km to 300 km.
The system’s Stunner missile is designed to intercept the latest generation of low-altitude tactical ballistic missiles, such as the Russian Iskander and Chinese DF-15using an onboard dual CCD/IR seeker to distinguish between the decoys and the actual missile warhead, as well as tracking by the Elta EL/M-2084 radar, an AESA active electronically scanned radar.
The multistage interceptor consists of a solid fuel rocket motor booster, followed by an asymmetric attack vehicle with an advanced guidance system for increased maneuverability during the interception stage. A three-pulse engine provides the necessary acceleration and maneuverability during the terminal approach phase.
David’s Honda system began operating in April 2017 and is intended to reinforce Israel’s anti-missile defenses, forming part of the future anti-missile defense system that Israel is developing, the defensive system includes the Arrow 2 and 3 missiles, the missile Barak and the Iron Dome and Iron Lightning defensive systemssince the year 2020. The interceptor is a two-stage missile, with the targeting and guidance systems installed at the tip of its nose (a radar and an electro-optical sensor).
To allow Israel to make use of the financial aid provided by the United States to develop the defensive system and produce it, a partnership was established with Raytheon, in charge of the missile launch unit and the general logistics system, while Rafael is in charge of the interceptor system. David’s Honda owes much to the modified search technology of the SPYDER program’s RAFAEL Python 5 and RAFAEL Derby air-to-air missiles.
While David’s Honda system has been designed to intercept medium and long range rockets, the Iron Dome system is a defensive system designed to intercept short-range rockets (4 to 70 km), and the “Arrow” missile has been designed to intercept ballistic missiles.
The development of this type of defensive weaponry has been a priority for Israel in recent years, as terrorist groups operating in the region have sworn to destroy the country, such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, which often launch rockets and mortars into Israeli territory. as, in fact, is happening in recent days in an escalation of violence in the country.
On July 23, 2018, the system was used for the first time in a real combat situation. According to Israeli sources, the authorities feared that two Syrian OTR-21 “Tochka” missiles were headed for Israel. Ultimately, the two Syrian short-range ballistic missiles, fired as part of internal fighting in the country and not deliberately aimed at Israel, did not cross the border and land one kilometer inside Syria. One of the interceptors was detonated over Israel.
David’s Honda has been a key request for Israel from Ukraine, which has been hit by Russian missiles and drones, though Israel has so far refused to supply the system.
Finland noted that since David’s Honda was developed in cooperation with the US, the sale would require a sales authorization from the US government. He also said that the procurement contract will include a separate part between the Israeli Defense Ministry and the Finnish Defense Ministry to ensure the security of supply of the system.