Considering Supplying David's Sling to Ukraine: A Potential Alternative to Patriot and SAMP/T Systems

The David's Sling air defense system
The David's Sling air defense system

Another long-range SAM system, capable of intercepting ballistic targets and aircraft at distances significantly greater than the Patriot, has already demonstrated its capabilities in actual combat, but acquiring it will be an even more challenging task

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that 25 Patriot surface-to-air missile systems with 6-8 batteries each are needed to fully cover Ukraine's airspace. However, the question of where to find such a quantity became even more challenging.

Despite Germany's declared intentions to find them, the task of locating even a few additional systems is exceedingly challenging due to the limited quantity available. The crux of the matter lies in the limited availability of such systems in armaments.

Read more: Germany's Initiative: Seeking Patriot Systems Worldwide for Ukraine - Locations, Numbers, and Potential Challenges

Although there are indeed systems with similar capabilities to the Patriot, one of them has already been transferred to the Ukrainian Armed Forces - the SAMP/T from Eurosam.

France and Italy jointly transferred a one SAMP/T surface-to-air missile system. However, it was delivered somewhere in early summer 2023, while discussions about potential reinforcement had been ongoing since October 2022.

Moreover, since then, no one talks about the possibility of supplying additional systems. It is also worth noting that in Europe, no one else besides Eurosam produces SAM systems with similar capabilities for intercepting ballistic and aerodynamic targets.

One of the few SAM systems that have demonstrated combat-proven effectiveness and the capability to intercept ballistic targets is the David's Sling by Israeli Rafael, which actively collaborated with American Raytheon during its development.

This system has already been used for real interceptions of ballistic missiles and has proven its high effectiveness, most recently in October 2023 for intercepting the Ayyash 250.

This SAM system indeed has very high capabilities and is already making its way through Europe - David's Sling was chosen by Finland. At the same time, based on its declared characteristics, it surpasses Patriot in parameters such as target destruction range and cost per shot.

In particular, the Stunner missile has a claimed range of up to 300 km for engaging aerodynamic targets, and a minimum range for intercepting ballistic targets of 40 km, due to the use of a two-stage scheme in the missile; however, its maximum range is not declared.

The Patriot's range for destroying high-altitude aerodynamic targets is stated as 160 km, while the anti-missile defense is implemented at distances of up to 60 km. Moreover, even in the Pentagon, it was acknowledged that the cost of the Stunner missile is only 20% of the price of the MSE missile for the Patriot. That's why this Israeli missile, in its localized version known as SkyCeptor, is set to be integrated into the new version of the Patriot PAAC-4.

David's Sling
David's Sling / Open source illustrative photo

At the same time, the quantity of David's Sling systems in Israel itself is unknown, as are the technological cycles of its production. However, the fact that it is an Israeli SAM system makes its transfer or procurement even more complicated than seeking additional Patriots. Currently, Israel neither transfers nor sells lethal weapons to Ukraine.

Read more: Unique SM-6 Missile System: With Longer Range than the Patriot, Capability to Destroy Aerial Targets at Distances up to 370 km