Photo: Rafael, IMOD

Israel to build high-power laser interceptor

Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz has approved the allocation of a multi-million shekel budget for the development and production of the “Iron Beam” high-power laser system designed to intercept rockets, mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

By Erin Viner

“Today we are advancing towards a dramatic change in the battlefield and enhancing Israel’s security in the face of growing threats emanating from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, supported by Iran and terrorist organizations,” said Lt. Gen. Gantz, according to a statement TV7 received from the Foreign Press Advisor for the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD) Spokesperson’s Office.

The Iron Beam represents a “a technological breakthrough” by the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) at the IMOD, which will lead the development plan together with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Elbit Systems Ltd. Following the initial investment, the next stage will include the allocation of additional hundreds of millions of shekels to complete the process, said the statement.

“As in the past, the DDR&D, Israeli industries, and the defense establishment continue to maintain Israel’s operational edge and save lives through creativity, flexibility, and ground-breaking technologies,” said Lt. Gen. Gantz, while stressing that the defense establishment “will do everything we can and allocate the necessary resources to complete the process as quickly as possible, and I am sure that along with the unprecedented operational and security gain, our investment will also lead to great economic gain for the State of Israel and ground-breaking collaborations with our allies.”

The Israeli Minister of Defense toured the Rafael compound together with the Head of Research and Development at the DDR&D, Brigadier General Yaniv Rotem, Rafael CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yoav Har-Even and General Manager at Elbit Systems ISTAR & EW, Oren Sabag, where they were presented with the system.

“The fruition of this program based on high-power laser technology is the product of many years of investment led by the DDR&D’s Research and Development Division together with the defense industries. Our decision to incorporate laser systems will lead to a significant increase in Israel’s defense capabilities,” said Brig. Gen. Rotem.

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Har-Even said that “Rafael is proud to lead the development and supply of the Iron Beam system,” which he emphasized will be “the most powerful laser system of its kind in the world.”

The Iron Beam will ultimately be integrated into Israel’s multi-tier air defense array and is expected to be cost-effective and operationally efficient.

After thanking the IMOD “for their trust and for leading this important move,” Rafael’s CEO said this strategic plan is “a significant milestone in Israel’s air defense capabilities.”

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Har-Even underscored that, “Similar milestones throughout the last decade include the development of Iron Dome and David’s Sling systems, which combine ground-breaking technologies that place the State of Israel at the global forefront of the air defense field.”