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Israel tests airborne laser system for anti-air defense

Israeli airborne laser weapon system
Photo: Israel MoD

Israel’s defense ministry, defense technology company Elbit Systems and the Israeli Air Force have completed a series of interception tests employing an airborne, high-power laser system.

During the test, the laser system was installed on an aircraft and tested in a number of scenarios. According to the defense ministry, it successfully intercepted and destroyed 100 percent of the UAVs launched during the test.

Carried out in coordination with the defense ministry’s weapons development and technology infrastructure administration (MAFAT), the tests are part of the first phase in a multi-year program to develop an advanced airborne laser system.

The system is expected to add another layer to Israel’s multi-tier defense array, complementing the capabilities of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow systems.

Augmented with monitoring and artificial intelligence capabilities, the optical system is envisioned as a bolt on solution that could be mounted on transport planes but also on other platforms, after its dimensions are minimized.

“You are bringing us closer to another important goal of our multi-level defense capabilities, which is to achieve protection at lower costs,” defense minister Benny Gantz said following the first test flight.

“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.”

The head of research and development at MAFAT said the system was successful in neutralizing target drones at over one kilometer away. “This is a groundbreaking technological achievement, a critical step for further development. To my knowledge, we’re among the only ones to do so.”

The first prototype is expected to be completed over the next three or four years, he added, hinting subsequently at the possibility of the system being deployed to the Gaza border.