WATCH: Israel concludes successful tests on laser interception system

June 22, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel’s Ministry of Defence, Elbit Systems, and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) were successful in intercepting Unnamed Aerial Vehicles (UAV) at different ranges and altitudes using an aerial laser system installed on an aircraft, a significant achievement for Israel’s defence array.

A UAV during interception. (IMoD)

The groundbreaking experiments, which were carried out in Israel for the first time, entailed an aircraft on which a laser system was installed, which intercepted and destroyed UAVs at different flight ranges and altitudes and in a number of different scenarios.

“The ability to destroy air threats including UAVs is an innovative capability with the potential for strategic change in Israel’s air defence capability,” the Ministry of Defense stated Monday.

The technological advancement is based on the ability to fire off a laser beam accurately. Using the new technology, the new defence system has been able to target and stabilize the beam on long-range targets while overcoming atmospheric disturbances.

Israel is among the first countries in the world to succeed in maturing laser technology into an airborne system and demonstrating interception capabilities in an operational scenario.

This series of experiments is the first phase in a multi-year pilot program to develop an airborne laser system for dealing with aerial threats and long-range threats with a high-powered laser.

A ground laser system that will be complementary to the Iron Dome defence system, and a mobile vehicle-mounted unit for the protection of the maneuvering forces in the field are also in development.

The Ministry of Defense explained that interception using a powerful aerial laser has many advantages, including the cost of a few dollars per interception, as opposed to the expensive Iron Dome system, the ability to intercept threats at very long ranges while operating at high altitudes and without weather restrictions, and providing a protective shell over large spaces.

Israel over the years has developed a multi-layered defence system to contend with the ever-evolving ballistic projectile threat from Iran, the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The aerial laser system will complement Israel’s multilayered defence system, which includes the Iron Dome system for close-range threats, the Magic Wand for mid-range threats, and the Arrow systems for long-range threats.

“The system will increase the effectiveness of the defence against the existing and expected threats in the arena,” the Ministry of Defense stated.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated that the new system will “add protection capabilities over larger ranges and in the face of a variety of measures, while greatly saving on the cost of interception and protection of the State of Israel.”

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