First Test Of Israeli Airborne Laser System Successfully Completed
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On June 21, the Israeli Defense Ministry reported on successful tests of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) laser interception system installed on a plane. According to the reports, the target drones were launched at different ranges and flight altitudes, but each time they were shot down by the laser beam.
The first test of an airborne laser system was successfully completed, in what Defense Minister Benny Gantz hailed a major “technological breakthrough.” It is for the first time that Israel used electrical lasers, instead of the chemical ones used in previous tests.
“You are bringing us closer to another important goal of our multi-level defense capabilities, which is to achieve protection at lower costs. The laser system will add defensive capabilities at larger ranges and against diverse targets, while greatly saving on the cost of interception and protection of this country. I’m sure our defense industries will succeed in this important venture and I’ll personally be involved with the entire system in order to promote it.” – said Benny Gantz.
The system was developed by Ebit Systems, and the tests were done in coordination with the Israeli air force and the Defense Ministry’s Weapons Development and Technology Infrastructure Administration (MAFAT in Hebrew). The project includes an airborne laser, developed by Elbit, as well as a ground-based laser developed by Rafael Advanced Weapons Systems.
The head of R&D at MAFAT told that the completely automated system had managed to intercept several drones at a range of over one kilometer. The system is aimed at being able to intercept targets at ranges of hundreds of kilometers within a decade, and with ranges of tens of kilometers even sooner
After the idea to use lasers to intercept rockets was first investigated in the 1990s, following the second Lebanon War, efforts to develop such a system were resumed, leading to the development of the Iron Dome.
A laser-based system, which development resumed the last years, is much cheaper than Iron Dome, and is aimed at complementing it, as well as David’s Sling (formerly known as Magic Wand) for mid-range targets and Arrow 3 for long ranged ones.
The completion of a prototype should be fulfilled in three or four years and by then the first system should be deployed on the Gaza border.
According to the Israeli Defense Minister, interception using a high-power airborne laser system has many advantages, including a cost of several dollars per interception, the ability to intercept threats emanating from very long ranges, while operating at great altitudes with no weather-related restrictions, thereby providing a protective envelope over wide areas.
Incorporation of laser technology into an airborne system is an important step for further development with the potential to create a strategic change in Israel’s aerial defensive abilities.
It is a major success for the Israeli defense industry, while Tel Aviv is one of the first in the world that has managed to incorporate laser technology.
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