Israel Deploying Nationwide Laser Anti-Drone and Anti-Mortar System

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Iron Beam (national laser defense) is designed to intercept close-range drones, rockets and mortars which might not remain in the air long enough for Israel’s current Iron Dome missile defense system to intercept.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said test data show Iron Beam lasers are blasting away more than 90 percent of their targets. The new system can also be modified so that multiple lasers can be used to hit a target, according to the company. But officials remain tight lipped as to when and how the Iron Beam will be deployed.

Zimmer, the company spokesman, said it took 15 engineers about five years to work on the technology involving solid-state lasers. It works by shooting laser beams at targets which are heated so rapidly they disintegrate in an instant.

“It’s very accurate and will help avoid collateral damage,” Zimmer said at the company’s booth at the airshow exhibition hall. “When you use lasers, you have an unlimited magazine.”

Besides Iron Beam and Iron Dome, Israel is also developing the next phase of its Arrow system which can intercept missiles in space and the upcoming David’s Sling, which shoots down short and mid-range ballistic missiles.

Iron Beam uses lasers 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, unlimited number of firings, lower operational costs, and less manpower. There is also no interceptor debris to fall on the area protected. The cost of each interception is negligible, unlike expensive missile interceptors—around US$2,000 per shot to cover all costs, against $100,000 to $150,000 per interceptor firing.

In 2016 laser power levels were reported to be “tens of kilowatts” with increases planned to hundreds of kW.

A 2020 report said that Iron Beam was thought to have a maximum effective range of up to 7 kilometers (4 miles) and could destroy missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, drones), and mortar shells around four seconds after the twin high-energy fiber-optic lasers make contact with their target.

In February 2022, Israel announced that the IDF will have the laser weapons system put into operational use within one year.

SOURCES- Rafael, Wikipedia, Times of Israel
Written by Brian Wang,

5 thoughts on “Israel Deploying Nationwide Laser Anti-Drone and Anti-Mortar System”

  1. Technology is nice but diplomacy might work better. For every technical problem, there is a technical solution.

  2. Distance cuts effectiveness of a laser system, not just because of the inverse square law, but also atmospheric absorption of the laser energy – so hypersonic missile intercept with this system simply isn't feasible.

    I doubt it will convince Hamas to stop given the projected time to destroy a target is 4 seconds.

    Assume that target identification is not instantaneous, so a minimum of 1 second on identification – and then that platform tracking/aiming takes at least a second or 2.

    That means a minimum of 6 seconds from first sighting to destruction of target – if it is fired from quite a distance away that is fine.

    If not then you simply won't get all of them – worse still if some sort of dummy/decoy objects like drones are released at the same time as the rockets.

    Also covering the rockets with a substance adequately reflective to the laser wavelength would increase the amount of time it can survive in flight.

    Even simply filling the air above the lasers with smoke first would diminish their effectiveness too – a point which in a dusty place like Israel and Palestine doesn't bode well vs more controlled tests.

  3. Will this work on Russia's new hypersonic missiles too, for which there is currently no defense fast enough to stop them? Or is the 4-mile limit too small to reach and maintain laser contact long enough to destroy them?
    In any case, maybe this will finally convince Hamas and other Palestinian groups to end the useless, expensive, and ultimately self-defeating, war on Israel.

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