Until some years ago rockets looked like a threat specific to a limited number of countries. The shortlist was headed by South Korea and Israel – Israel has been attacked by short- and long-range rockets from Lebanon and the Gaza strip, while South Korea is faced by such threats from North Korea.
This situation has changed. Many countries now understand that while ballistic missiles seem a huge concern, the more realistic worry is from rockets of all shapes and sizes.
Hence the increasing interest from many countries in ways to protect themselves from rockets.
While the US is still trying to deploy ballistic missiles interceptors in Europe, some countries want to be able to counter the more imminent threat.
Poland may deploy the Rafael/Raytheon David’s Sling rocket interceptor.
The Polish defence ministry has been briefed on the development stage of the system, which is expected to become operational in Israel in 2015.
A Rafael source said Poland is “among the countries that show interest in the system under development”.
Earlier this year the Polish Ministry of Defence announced it intends to purchase middle-range anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems. The procurement is part of Poland’s plans to overhaul its missile defence system from 2014 to 2023.
The ministry invited interested manufacturers to participate in a dialogue through which the ministry will provide detailed information on the technical and strategic requirements of the procurement.
In April, Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski signed a bill on modernising and financing the Polish armed forces that secured a separate stream of funding to overhaul its missile defence system. According to the bill, the funds will be set aside from the country’s defence budget for 2014- 2023.
The David’s Sling system will be part of a multi-layered defence system Israel is building to defend itself from rockets and missiles. The first layer is the Iron Dome system – also developed by Rafael. This unit is designed to intercept short-range rockets, and has a proven a high rate of intercepts.
David’s Sling will be the second layer, with the Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 the third layer against ballistic missiles. David’s Sling is designed to intercept rockets with a range of 70-250km, but this capability will increase in the future. The system is also designed to intercept cruise missiles.
The cruise missile intercept capability has been added as “threats are changing”, according to Israeli sources.
Poland will evaluate the Israeli systems, but it will not be alone. Israeli sources say other countries are potential customers for different versions of Israeli-developed rocket interceptors.