Iron Beam: what is Israel's laser-powered weapon?

Defence system can neutralise aerial targets within four to five seconds

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As part of his visit to Israel, US President Joe Biden viewed the country's advanced defence systems, including the Iron Dome and the Iron Beam.

These missile defence systems, developed in partnership with the US, are designed to shoot down rockets, but unlike the Iron Dome, which has intercepted thousands of rockets since it began service in 2011, the Iron Beam is not yet in operation.

What is Israel's Iron Dome weapons system?

The Iron Dome launches interceptor missiles to track down projectiles, but the Iron Beam will rely on lasers to strike down airborne targets. The system's fibre laser is expected to down aerial targets within four to five seconds of firing using super heat.

The newest system is designed to disable aerial targets that are too small for the Iron Dome to engage. The Iron Beam has a range of up to seven kilometres and is meant to take out mortar bombs, short-range rockets and artillery fire.

What is Israel's Iron Beam?

The Iron Beam also has an unlimited magazine and causes minimal collateral damage, Rafael Defence Systems said.

Both systems were manufactured by Rafael Defence Systems and underwritten by the US. Former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said the system should be operational by early 2023.

Mr Bennett said striking down enemy aerial targets, such as drones and rockets, will cost only $2 per interception.

The Iron Beam will make up the fifth layer of Israel's integrated defence system, which also includes Arrow II, Arrow II, David's Sling and the Iron Dome.

The Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile battery deployed near the border with Lebanon in the north of Galilee, Israel. EPA

Rafael Defence Systems said that the Iron Beam could be integrated on numerous platforms and act as a complementary high-energy laser interceptor to multilayer defence systems.

Mr Bennett said that Israel would soon be surrounded with a “laser wall” to protect it from aerial threats.

Updated: July 14, 2022, 11:34 AM
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