This will be the first combat laser fielded for active service. Israel has the pressing need for short range defense that are too close for the Iron Dome. The US has the luxury of taking time to test lasers on navy ships, trucks and fighter planes and then fielding in a few years. Israel has testing in live combat since if the Iron beam fails the mortar would have got through anyway. Patriot anti-missile systems were also rushed into active service in early days of the Iraq conflict.
Iron Beam will use a "directed high energy laser beam" to destroy hostile targets with ranges of up to 7 kilometres (4.3 miles)
Iron Beam uses a fiber optic laser to destroy an airborne target within 4-5 seconds of firing. Whether acting as a stand-alone system or with external cueing as part of an air-defense system, a threat is detected by a surveillance system and tracked by vehicle platforms in order to engage. The main benefits of using a directed energy weapon over conventional missile interceptors are lower costs per shot, an unlimited magazine, lower operational costs, and less manpower.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has a page on their high energy laser.