An Israeli defense contractor says it plans to reveal a new missile defense system based on lasers that are designed to heat and blow up incoming warheads, the latest answer to Israel’s growing concerns about regional instability.
At a conference next month in Singapore, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Ltd will unveil the system – Iron Beam - a “High Energy Laser (HEL) based system Against Rockets, Mortar and Airborne Target Attacks,” the company announced on its website.
According to the website Israel Defense, the objective of the system is to combat rockets and mortars that are fired from short distances which Israel Defense Forces’ Iron Dome anti-missile batteries are unable to knock out of the sky.
“The system would be most relevant to the Negev town of Sderot, which is situated less than four kilometers[2.5 miles] from Gaza and, therefore, largely unprotected by Iron Dome,” the Times of Israel noted.
Israeli soldiers are seen near an Iron Dome battery near Jerusalem, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. The Israeli military has deployed an "Iron Dome" missile defense battery in the outskirts of Jerusalem. (Gil Yohanan/AP)
Residents of the embattled border town have noted that they sometimes have only seconds to find shelter when an alert of an incoming rocket is issued.
“The system is designed to deal with threats that fly on too small a trajectory to be engaged efficiently by Iron Dome, the Israeli interceptor credited with an 80 percent success rate against rockets fired by Palestinian militants,” Reuters reported, citing information provided by an unnamed Israeli defense official.
“While Iron Dome launches radar-guided interceptor rockets, Iron Beam's laser will super-heat the warheads of shells with ranges of up to 7 km (4.5 miles),” it added.
The latest anti-rocket system is part of a multi-tiered approach to missile defense which includes the Iron Dome, David’s Sling for medium range missiles and the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 which are designed to intercept ballistic missiles while still in the atmosphere.
The Times of Israel reported that each Iron Dome interceptor costs around $100,000; but firing a laser beam would have a much lower price tag.
As TheBlaze reported, 20 rockets have been fired by Palestinian terror groups in Gaza toward Israel during the month of January so far, prompting Israeli Air Force strikes on three targets in Gaza on Sunday.
“We are determined to preserve the quiet in the South,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. “We do this through a policy of prevention and by responding powerfully against those who try to harm or hurt us."