Israel’s Defense Ministry has approved funding to develop a high-powered laser interceptor.
Co-developed by the Directorate of Defense Research and Development, Rafale Defense and Elbit Systems, the Iron Beam laser system will be integrated into Israel’s multi-level air defense network consisting of Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow.
Rafale unveiled the Iron Beam concept in 2014 as a cost-effective option for intercepting rockets, mortars and drones. The multi-kilowatt solid-state laser concept consisted of a pair of laser effectors combining their beams to destroy targets.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz has approved the allocation of a large budget to develop the “Iron Beam”, a high-powered laser system designed to intercept rockets, mortars and drones. The MOD will sign an agreement with @RAFAELdefense in the next few days to develop the system pic.twitter.com/D3MILKQtIj
— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) March 17, 2022
Ready by 2023
The system has a range of up to 7 kilometers (4.35 miles) and destroys a target within four seconds of contact, national interest reportedadding that it is compatible with many radars and can be fitted to a range of vehicles.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announcement in February that the system would be ready within a year, deployed experimentally for a year, and operationally thereafter.
Israeli MOD announces funding for the development and production of the Iron Beam laser system: Rafael President and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yoav Har-Even: “Rafael is proud to lead the development and delivery of the system” Iron Beam, “the most powerful laser system of its type in the world.” pic.twitter.com/9R2f4d1PhJ
— RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems (@RAFAELdefense) March 17, 2022
The Iron Beam would cost $2,000 per shot, compared to Iron Dome’s $100,000 to $150,000 per interception.
Explaining the economic rationale behind the system, Bennett said intercepting a few hundred dollars worth of rockets with tens of thousands of dollars worth of Iron Dome battery tips the fight in favor of the enemy.
“This equation does not make sense,” said the Prime Minister.
“He allows [the terrorists] to launch more and more Kassams and that we lose several millions during a “love at first sight” and billions during a campaign. We decided to solve the equation, and it will be broken in just a few years.
“If you can intercept a missile or a rocket with an electrical impulse that costs a few dollars, we weaken the ring of fire that Iran has built on our borders.