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, Nextbigfuture.com
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