Rafael’s directed-energy weapons will help modernize Israel’s Iron Dome, which already has a 90% accuracy rate
The chairman of an Israeli-owned defense company expects that by next year, Israel will become the first country to be partially protected by a laser weapons system capable of shooting down rockets, drones, and other projectiles.
In an interview with the Israel Defense Forces’ Army Radio, Yuval Steinitz, the chairman of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, said he predicts the nation will be fully outfitted with the system within two years. The technology may also eventually be used to shoot down Iran-supplied drones in the war in Ukraine.
The country has been working on the technology for about two decades, according to the trade publication National Defense Magazine.
Rafael’s directed-energy weapons will allegedly help modernize Israel’s Iron Dome, a defense system largely funded by the U.S. government, which in 2022 vowed to send another $1 billion for the project.
The Iron Dome, which was developed in part by Rafael, is already highly accurate, with an estimated 90% success rate in shooting down relatively low-tech short-range rockets from the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Dubbed the “Iron Beam,” Rafael’s new laser technology can reportedly intercept rockets and drones at any target in a 6.2-mile range with beams that have the diameter of a coin — a method far more affordable than the current system, which uses missiles to destroy incoming projectiles.
The rollout follows a series of tests in 2022 that reportedly showed the system successfully intercepting mortars, rockets, anti-tank missiles, and drones.
In December of last year, U.S.-based defense contractor Lockheed Martin said it was partnering with Rafael to adapt its laser technology for use in the U.S. and in other ally nations.