U.S. Navy Vice Admiral James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday that negotiations with Israel continue on the deal and the system is expected to be operational next year following a series of successful intercept tests last April, Reuters reported.
David’s Sling was designed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems along with the U.S. defense firm Raytheon, and is designed to defend against medium-to-long range rockets and missiles from 63-125 miles. It will fill the gap between Israel’s short-range Iron Dome and Arrow ballistic missile interceptor systems, which are already in service.
The announcement comes as the U.S. is attempting to assuage fears among regional allies of Iran’s ballistic missile threat, following failed efforts to stop the nuclear deal in Congress.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Iran’s ballistic missile activities continue to pose a risk to the United States and our allies and partners in Europe, Israel, and the Gulf,” Robert Scher, assistant defense secretary for strategy, plans, and capabilities, told U.S. lawmakers Thursday, Reuters reported.
Scher said the U.S. would continue to push for cooperative missile defense programs among allies in the Middle East since the nuclear deal did not cover Iran’s work on ballistic missiles.