More miraculous military technology from Israel. This laser system should be ready to go by 2024, and will make Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense capability even stronger. It’s being described as “a strategic change in the air defense capabilities of the State of Israel,” and will be used to take down rockets and drones launched by Iran’s terror armies. Watch the video. It’s impressive.
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Interception tests successfully completed employing airborne High-Power Laser Weapon System. The system successfully intercepted UAVs mid-air, at various ranges & altitudes, making Israel among the first countries to demonstrate this capability. @IAFsite Video: @Israel_MOD (1/2) pic.twitter.com/pfYDXfuIKL
— Elbit Systems (@ElbitSystemsLtd) June 21, 2021
Israel Has Shot Down Drones With An Airborne High-Power Laser
By The Drive, June 21, 2021
Israel’s Ministry of Defense announced today that it successfully intercepted multiple drones during a test of an airborne high-power laser weapon. The demonstrated system is being hailed as “a strategic change in the air defense capabilities of the State of Israel” and could potentially add a vital capability to Israel’s multi-layered integrated air defense system. While the new high-power laser has been tested against UAVs, statements made by officials involved with the demonstration show that the system is also intended to defend against rocket attacks.
The demonstration was carried out by the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) “Yanat” missile test unit, Israel’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), and Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems. A press release accompanying the announcement states that multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were intercepted and destroyed above a test range using the new airborne laser system. Footage shared online shows the system deployed on a Cessna 208 Caravan behind a windowed panel on the left side of the aircraft’s rear fuselage. Few specifics about the laser system’s capabilities have been released, but DDR&D’s Head of Research and Development, Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, stated that the system successfully intercepted drones at a range of more than 1km.
Airborne laser systems offer advantages over ground-based laser systems due to the fact that they are carried aboard aircraft and therefore can be rapidly moved between locations. This offers added flexibility to respond to UAV threats wherever they might present themselves and provides greater coverage over a much wider area, especially when compared to a stationary system.
An airborne counter-drone system also will be less impacted by atmospheric distortion than its ground-based counterparts. Laser directed energy weapons, in general, have limitations, such as being highly susceptible to atmospheric conditions, clouds, and smoke. As with any weapon system, size, weight, thermal loads, and power also significantly limit how effective they are against various threats or even how broadly they can be deployed on different aircraft. You can read all about these issues in this past piece of ours.
Israel’s new airborne laser system is claimed to be able to “effectively intercept long-range threats at high altitudes regardless of weather conditions,” despite the fact that Israel’s Ministry of Defense has previously stated that laser systems do not work well in inclement weather or through cloud cover. Still, laser systems offer advantages over kinetic interceptors, in that cost-per-intercept is much lower despite the potential for high up-front procurement and research and development costs of the laser systems themselves.
The aforementioned cost per intercept advantage is a significant catalyst in the development of Israel’s new airborne laser defense system. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the demonstration of the new system is “significant both in terms of cost-effectiveness and defense capabilities” and “will add a new layer of protection at greater ranges and in facing a variety of threats – securing the State of Israel while saving the costs of interception.”
While the most recent demonstration saw Israel’s new high-power laser shoot down multiple UAVs only, statements made by those developing the program show that this system could also offer a new tool in Israel’s growing arsenal of rocket defenses. Oren Sabag, General Manager of Elbit Systems Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Division, said that “that the use of a high-power laser to carry out low-cost airborne interception of rockets and hostile unmanned aircraft, closer to their launching areas and away from population centers, offers a significant change in Israel’s defense capabilities.”
Last year, Israel’s Ministry of Defense announced an unspecified “technological breakthrough” related to an airborne laser system being developed in conjunction with Elbit Systems. That system was claimed to cost just one dollar per intercept, compared with the “tens of thousands of dollars that each Iron Dome interceptor missile costs.” Israel is looking at developing an array of laser weapons that also includes drone-mounted and ground-based systems.
Israel’s new airborne high-power laser system could complement Israel’s existing multi-tier missile defense network, which includes the Iron Dome, Patriot, David’s Sling, and Arrow surface-to-air missile systems, as well as manned fighters and helicopters. The need for a multi-layered approach for lower-end threats presented itself in recent clashes when continuous mass rocket attacks launched by Palestinian militants tested the Iron Dome’s capabilities by overwhelming it with sheer numbers.
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