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Israel completes live trial of Iron Beam laser interceptor

Rafael Iron Beam Israel
Photo: Israeli defense ministry

The Israeli defense ministry’s research department (DDR&D) and defense technology company Rafael have completed tests with a high-power laser interception system against a range of targets.

The laser, dubbed the “Iron Beam,” successfully intercepted unmanned aerial vehicles, mortars, rockets, and anti-tank missiles in multiple scenarios, the defense ministry said.

Rafael first revealed in March this year it had received the defense ministry’s approval to proceed with the development and production of an operational high-power laser system.

The two sides signed a multi-million dollar contract in the same month. The contract signing took place after the company first unveiled the Iron Beam concept in 2014.

Photo: Israeli defense ministry

“This is the world’s first energy-based weapons system that uses a laser to shoot down incoming UAVs, rockets & mortars at a cost of $3.50 per shot,” Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett commented.

“It may sound like science fiction, but it’s real.”

According to current plans, the laser interceptor is expected to be installed in the Gaza Strip once operational. This is where the Iron Beam will complement the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Iron Beam is designed as a containerized system deployable in a way similar to the Iron Dome. It will provide intercept capability in the lower layer, focusing on defeating mortar, and short-range rockets.

This is not the first time Israel has tested an operationally relevant high-power laser system. In February 2020, it also demonstrated the effectiveness of the Drone Dome hard-kill counter-drone laser, in addition to completing first tests of an airborne, high-power laser system in 2021.