On January 9th, the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced that it had made a breakthrough in laser weapon development. Israel has reportedly developed a new laser technology to intercept aerial threats, including rockets and anti-tank guided missiles.
The new laser technology “makes the security apparatus more lethal, more powerful and more advanced,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said.
He said that this new weapon would be added to Israel’s other tools for waging war.
“We will add a laser sword when dealing with threats from the North or the South. The enemies of Israel better not test our resolve or our abilities” Bennett warned.
Brig.-Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Research and Development, said that a new stage of warfare was incoming.
“We are entering a new age of energy warfare in the air, on land and at sea. The R&D investments made by the DD [Directorate of Defense] R&D in recent years have placed the State of Israel among the leading countries in the field of high-energy laser systems.”
This is a development 10 years in the making according to reports.
“This is a dramatic solution to rocket fire,” said Dubi Oster, head of the DDR&D Optronics Department. “We have been working on this for years. But it is challenging to get a good-quality beam to stay the size you need at the range you need… for example, a beam the diameter of a coin from here [in Tel Aviv] to Herzliya.”
According to Oster, the ministry was able to take several laser beams and, with an advanced algorithm, connect them to get one strong beam that is able to intercept and take down a variety of threats.
Based on high-energy electric lasers rather than chemical laser technology, the robust system will complement the other layers of Israel’s aerial defenses and will be a strategic change in the defense capabilities of the state, the ministry said.
According to Brig. Gen. Rotem, some of the advantages of the high-energy lasers include the ability to continually use the system at lower cost, higher effectiveness and with efficient management.
This would, in turn, lead to a lower number of missile interceptors used by the Iron Dome and other defense systems, since they aren’t exactly cheap.
“During a war, missile interceptors will at one point run out, but with this system, as long as you have electricity, you have a never-ending supply,” he said.
“This is a weapon that you can’t see or hear,” Rotem said, and every time it is used it would be quite cheap, since it only runs on electricity.
The use of two different and complementary technologies – kinetic air-defense-like systems, such as the Iron Dome, and laser platforms – “is a game-changer,” Rotem said.
Three programs for the development of high-energy laser weapons demonstration systems have been launched as a result of the reported breakthrough:
- a ground-based laser system to complement the capabilities of the Iron Dome;
- development of a maneuverable platform-mounted laser system to defend troops in the field;
- development of a laser demo system mounted on an air platform to intercept threats above cloud covers and for the defense of wide areas.
“This is one system with many options – the weapon of the future,” Rotem said.
In 2020, there are trials planned of the new development and they are likely to be interesting.
“This technology enables the development of highly effective operational systems that will serve as an additional layer of defense to secure the State of Israel by air, land and sea,” the ministry said.
Just before New Year’s Eve, on December 30th, Israel announced that it had developed a new small-scale laser weapon, to be used in intercepting balloons and multicopters, frequently used to carry explosives or flammable weapons over the borders.
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