On August 2, Israel’s Defense Ministry revealed that the United States had approved the sale of a co-developed advanced air-defense system, David’s Sling, to Finland, paving the way for its deployment in Russia’s backyard.
With the green light received from Washington, the Defense Ministry of Israel now stands poised to finalize the sale of the “David’s Sling” Weapon System to Finland in a lucrative 316 million euros ($345.80 million) deal.
Calling it a historic agreement, Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant expressed his delight over the US government’s approval for the sale of David’s Sling, marking a milestone in the cooperation between Israel and Finland that promises to bolster their response to global and regional threats.
The Israel Ministry of Defense, Finnish Ministry of Defense, and Rafael Advanced Systems are now set to participate in a ceremony where they will sign a procurement agreement valued at around 316 million Euros.
Yuval Steinitz, the chairman of Rafael, the manufacturer of David’s Sling, said that the system, already in use in Israel, “will significantly enhance Finland’s air defense capabilities, and we anticipate more agreements in the future.”
The US Government approved the procurement of the Israeli “David’s Sling” Weapon System to Finland. After receiving approval, the Israel MOD, Finnish MOD & Rafael Advanced Systems will participate in a ceremony to sign a procurement agreement worth approximately 316 million Euros pic.twitter.com/UgjeayPXWS
— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) August 2, 2023
According to The Jerusalem Post, the director of DDR&D’s Israel Missile Defense Organization, Moshe Patel, took the lead in the negotiations for the approval.
The approval was required because of the US’ contribution as a co-developer of the system, with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems serving as the prime contractor and US-based Raytheon acting as the subcontractor.
All the participating parties will join forces to arm Finland with the advanced missile defense system while actively engaging Finland’s local defense community in customizing the system.
Eyal Zamir, the Director General of the Israel Ministry of Defense, affirmed that they will maintain close cooperation with the US government throughout the process.
He added that Finland’s display of confidence in the Israeli missile defense system, along with the approval from the United States for sale, will catalyze further cooperation between Israel’s defense establishment and defense industries with other European countries.
This positive development also showcases the potential for expanded partnerships in defense technology and collaboration.
David’s Sling For Finland
The Finnish authorities had granted approval for purchasing the air defense system in April, immediately following its official accession to NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On July 25, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant emphasized the significance of concluding the sale during a discussion with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, as stated by Gallant’s office at that time.
David’s Sling, produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, showcases an interception capability against rockets and missiles within a range of 40-300 kilometers (25-185 miles).
Widely known as the Magic Wand, David’s Sling has been operational in Israel since 2017 and is the intermediate layer in Israel’s multi-layer missile defense capabilities.
In May, the system demonstrated effectiveness by achieving multiple interceptions when rockets were fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv. With the potential sale to Finland, the NATO member will become the first international customer of this advanced air-defense system.
Meanwhile, the US approval for the sale of David’s Sling to Finland comes closely on the heels of another significant development, as Washington recently gave the green light for the sale of $395 million worth of equipment to the Finnish government to modernize M270A2 multiple-launch rocket systems.
Driven by concerns over the potential threat of Russian aggression, Finland joined NATO in April, resulting in a notable change in northeastern Europe’s security situation, as it extended the alliance’s borders with Russia by about 1,300 kilometers (830 miles).
Numerous European countries are turning to Israel to enhance their defense capabilities in response to emerging security threats from Russia’s actions, particularly in the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
In addition to the sale to Finland, Israel is making significant progress in finalizing a deal to sell the Arrow 3 system to Germany.
Ukraine, which has faced relentless attacks from Russian missiles and drones, has expressed a strong interest in acquiring David’s Sling from Israel, recognizing its potential as a critical defense solution. However, Israel has been hesitant to provide the system to Ukraine thus far.
Israel’s hesitation seems to stem from a critical strategic concern – the necessity to preserve operational freedom in Syria, given the significant control exerted by Russian forces over the airspace in the region.
Nonetheless, the potential deployment of Israel’s David’s Sling in Finland would provide the country with a robust defense mechanism, bolstering its overall security posture in a region where strategic considerations are of paramount concern.