Israel yesterday unveiled its anticipated missile shield known as Iron Beam that uses a laser to “superheat” the warheads of short-range rockets, mortar bombs, and drones and blow them up in flight.
The first-of-its-kind system was shown off for the first time at the annual Singapore Air Show, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Israel-based developer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said Iron Beam will be operational next year.
Iron Beam is designed to handle threats that fly on too small a trajectory for longer-range Iron Dome, the Rafael-developed interceptor credited with an 80 percent success rate against rockets fired by Palestinian militants, The Jerusalem Post reported.
With its maximum interception range of 4.5 miles, Iron Beam would intercept rockets, mortar and artillery shells, and drones coming from Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon — a vital capability for the security of vulnerable towns and kibbutz settlements along the border, the Free Beacon noted.
American funding was involved, the newspaper said, and has been tested successfully.
Advantages for Iron Beam are that it can be mounted on a single truck operating with another truck carrying the radar equipment, and that each laser blast costs several hundred dollars compared with Iron Dome anti-rockets that cost tens of thousands of dollars each, the Free Beacon reported.
Israel is also developing an interceptor known as David’s Sling for medium-range rockets, and the Arrow System against ballistic missiles like those in Iran’s arsenal, the Free Beacon reported.
The U.S. Navy has announced a laser system will be installed this year on a transport vessel, the USS Ponce, for testing. A spokesman for the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, Chris Johnson, told the Free Beacon if the Navy moves forward on the project “the first operational weapons could enter the fleet between 2017 and 2021.”
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By Cathy Burke