Moscow: Russia has obtained Israel’s most advanced interceptor missile, which could be reverse engineered to crack the latest Israeli and US air defence systems, according to news reports.
China’s SINA news agency reported that an Israeli Stunner interceptor missile was captured by the Syrians and handed over to the Russians after Israel fired two Stunners at potentially threatening missiles.
“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 Business Insider. “If I was Israel, my big concern is that if Russia can get the intelligence to defeat the interceptor to Iran,” Williams added.
If the SINA story is true, this is a big loss for Israel and the United States. US defense giant Raytheon is incorporating an adaption of the Stunner missile into its Patriot air defense system with Poland projected as the first customer. Israel is adopting the same technology into a version (Python 6) of its Python air to air missile, giving it the possibility to go after high-value targets with a sophisticated beyond visual range new generation missile.
Both Raytheon and Rafael will need to make technological changes so that Russia won’t be able to create ways to defeat the system. Whether the Russians can copy it depends a lot on whether Russia has the technological capability to do the cloning. It is likely some elements, including the 3D AESA millimeter-wave radar, will be a very big obstacle for them to overcome.
The Stunner missile is the interceptor part of the Israeli air defense system known as David’s Sling, which is designed to intercept enemy aircraft, drones, cruise missiles, tactical ballistic missiles and medium to long-range rockets. Most of the Stunner’s design was done by Raytheon, with help from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Israel.
The Stunner is aimed at defeating all short-range missiles, which represents 92% of all missiles in global inventories. Given the recent successful cruise missile and drone attacks in Saudi Arabia, the importance of Stunner and David’s Sling should not be underestimated.