Israel has once again reminded us that we should thank our lucky stars that the Jewish state is on our side. In the “What Have You Done For Us Lately” Department, Israel has just completed tests of its new high-power laser system that, installed on a civilian aircraft, can shoot down drones. It promises to be what is called a game-changer. The story of this remarkable advance is here: “Israel successfully downs targets using airborne laser system,” by Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2021:
The Defense Ministry has successfully carried out a series of interceptions to shoot down drones with a powerful airborne laser system installed on a civilian light aircraft….
During the trials that were carried out over the sea, the high-powered laser fired from a civilian Cessna plane destroyed the unmanned targets at differing ranges and altitudes.
According to the Defense Ministry, Israel is perhaps the first country in the world to have been able to use such laser technology on an aircraft to intercept targets in an operational simulation….
The fully automated energy system uses the laser to destroy a target while flying above the clouds, he said, adding that the “powerful and precise system” can intercept the target “regardless of weather conditions.
Once a target passes through the area of interest, the system can be directed at any part of it with very high accuracy. It locks on and remains locked on until the target is downed….
The ground system will also be able to destroy targets at a range of eight to 10 km. with a 100 kW laser, Rotem said. The ministry is aiming for an operational system by 2024 to be deployed at the Gaza border area for shooting down rockets, he said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz congratulated MAFAT, Elbit and the IAF on the technological breakthrough.
“Today, you have brought us closer to yet another important milestone in the development of the multitiered defense array of the State of Israel, and it is significant both in terms of cost effectiveness and defense capabilities,” he said.
“The laser system will add a new layer of protection at greater ranges and in facing a variety of threats: securing the State of Israel while saving costs of interception,” Gantz said. “I am confident that Israel’s defense industry will succeed in this important development program, and I will work personally together with the entire defense establishment to ensure its success.”
The Defense Ministry hopes that the airborne system will further increase the effectiveness of Israel’s air defenses against existing and future threats. It is expected to complement Israel’s multitiered air-defense array, which includes the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile interceptors….
The lasers can cover a much wider area and lock onto, and then destroy, unmanned vehicles passing through that area. The cost of firing a laser beam for an interception will cost around $2000. Meanwhile, the price of launching an Iron Dome interception missile is between $40,000 and $60,000. Consider how may tens of millions of dollars the IDF spent on Iron Dome missiles in the recent war against Hamas; Hamas aimed 4300 not-very-expensive rockets at Israel; about 600 fell short, leaving 3700 that entered Israeli airspace; Iron Dome missiles managed to intercept 90%. The cost of such a defense is becoming an increasingly urgent issue as large-scale attacks become more frequent and the expense of interception skyrockets.
The laser system will potentially save the IDF hundreds of millions of dollars; it is also more precise in its targeting, and can lock onto a target much closer to its launch, as compared to the Iron Dome.
Israel keeps providing evidence of how creatively it responds to every military challenge its enemies present. In three years, it will have ready an anti-missile and anti-drone system that will cost 1/20th of what such a defense does at present. And Israel will share this laser beam technology – as it always has done with its every military advance in the past – with the U.S.
Be afraid, Ismail Haniyeh and Yahyah Sinwar. Be afraid, Hassan Nasrallah, Ebrahim Raisi and Ayatollah Khamenei, be very afraid. Once those Israeli weapons scientists focus their attention on building new weapons systems, there seems to be no obstacle they cannot in time overcome. Now they’ve reached the “breakthrough” of laser-beam weapons, capable of being fired both from the ground and from civilian light planes flying above the clouds. What’s next to come, from the creative geniuses at Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems? We’re on the edge of our seats.