Israel Reportedly Accelerating Deployment of Game-Changing Laser Aerial Defense System
i24 News — Israel over the past 15 years developed a sophisticated multi-layered defense system, which has been put into active duty as it faces aerial threats from terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, various pro-Iranian militias in Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen.
Among the recent developments, the “Iron Beam” system from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has stood out as a major innovation with a high-power laser to intercept rockets, anti-tank missiles, drones, and mortar shells.
More than a hundred Rafael engineers have reportedly been working on this project, considered one of the most significant technological challenges ever faced by the Israeli defense industries, in order to create a fast and effective interception system, with inexhaustible and near cost-free ammunition.
Recent tests of Iron Beam in the Negev have shown promising results, with the system successfully intercepting various airborne threats. The heart of the system is an electric laser pointer, capable of targeting and sending out a powerful laser beam, invisible to the naked eye.
Since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7, more than 10,000 projectiles have been fired at Israel, including 3,000 in the first hours of the conflict. Rafael and the Israeli Defense Ministry have considered the current operations as an opportunity to test the Iron Beam under real combat conditions.
In an interview with the Calcalist newspaper, one of Rafael’s Iron Beam program managers expressed high ambitions for this new defense system, saying, “Our aim is to reach a state where the enemy feels totally powerless. He has to understand that our laser pointers, deployed where needed, intercept and destroy all his attacks, almost instantly after they are launched, long before they reach Israeli territory or threaten anyone else. In such a scenario, the activation of warning sirens might even become unnecessary.”
The initial deployment of Iron Beam is scheduled for 2025, although its development is currently being accelerated for service as early as 2024. It is expected to complement the existing Iron Dome system, which costs around $50,000 to fire an interceptor missile, and would thus offer a more cost-effective defense option.