According to a Chinese news site, Russia is in possession of an advanced Israeli interceptor missile that was launched last year in response to Syrian rocket fire.
An advanced Israeli surface-to-air missile that was fired from David’s Sling (formerly known as the Magic Wand) missile system was given to Russia by Syria, when it was found intact after the rocket did not explode on contact, according to Russian media sources.
The rocket was reportedly fired on July 23, 2018, and Syrian forces that were dispatched to the scene found the missile intact after it sustained minor damage from impact. The missile was then taken to a Syrian-Russian base where it was transferred to Moscow for further research.
“It’s certainly a concern. If I was at Rafael, I’d be nervous right now,” Ian Williams, deputy director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic International Studies, told Insider.
The concern, Williams said, is not so much that Russia will produce a copy of the system for its own use as other countries might. “If Iran captured this thing, we would see an identical system two years from now,” he told Insider.
But if Russia has indeed got its hands on the Stunner missile, it could study the technology and figure out how to defeat David’s Sling system, which would be a massive problem for the countries — like Poland — where Israel is attempting to sell the system, not to mention Israel itself.
“If I was Israel, my big concern is that if Russia can get the intelligence to defeat the interceptor to Iran,” Williams said.
Dmitry Stefanovich, Russian International Affairs Council expert and Vatfor project co-founder, told Insider that Russia could also potentially use the missile to refine its own systems — “both offensive and defensive.”
“In terms of air defense interceptors, they’re no slouches themselves, they do have pretty advanced, very sophisticated interceptors as is,” Williams said, citing the S-300, S-400, and S-500 systems.
SINA also reported that the United States and Israel requested that Russia return the missile to Israel; however, that effort was unsuccessful. Neither Russia nor the IDF has confirmed reports of the missile coming into Russian possession, according to the Times of Israel.
David’s Sling was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and American defense contractor Raytheon. The system is designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles and the newest generation of tactical ballistic missiles at low altitude.
The system forms the middle layer of air defense systems between the Iron Dome and the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 missile defense systems.
Russian media reports quoted Chinese news agency Sina saying that the missile was taken by Russia for “reverse engineering.”