Israel and Hamas have taken to open hostilities yet again. More than 1,000 rockets have been fired from the Palestinian enclave towards Israel.
Israel has retaliated with massive force and the conflict has escalated. While Israel is currently counting on the Iron dome for protection, anew system holds the key to the future. Israel’s defense establishment had unveiled a laser-based platform last year.
The system is designed to defend against different kinds of projectiles like unguided rockets that are launched towards Israel by knocking them out of the air.
The new system will complement the country’s existing layered air defense which consists of several air defense systems like Iron Dome and Arrow.
As per reports, it will undergo testing in the coming months and is likely to be operational by next year. In this Blog Defense Updates analyzes why the upcoming Laser-based Interception System will be the true protector of Israel?
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So, take the plunge and join the more than 20 million players from all over the world! Israel has been targeted by different kinds of projectiles like short-range rockets, artillery fire, mortars. In 2011, Israel began operating the Iron Dome officially. According to Israel, it has been used to intercept more than 1,500 targets with a greater than 90% success rate since it was deployed in 2011.
Though the exact data regarding the success rate is often challenged by critics, its overall effectiveness is well accepted. This time, Hamas has launched a massive onslaught with more than 1000 rockets.
It is designed to saturate the Iron dome system. While Iron Dome seems to have held its own even this time, it has limitations. Each Tamir interceptor used by Iron Dome has a reported unit cost of $100,000 to $150,000 while the rockets flung by Hamas militants will be a fraction of this cost.
Also, Iron Dome can run out of interceptors when faced with a large-scale offensive. The new laser-based system was made public by the head of the Defense Ministry’s weapons development administration, Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem last year. He said,
“We are entering a new era of ‘energy combat’ in the air, on land, and at sea. Investments by the Defense Ministry in recent years have positioned Israel among the leading countries in [the field of] high-power lasers.”
As per reports, Israel has actually been working on this kind of laser technology for years. But significant progress was made in a collaborative effort involving Israel’s Defense Ministry, Israeli defense firms Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Elbit Systems and members of their academic community.
The system is based on electric laser technology, unlike chemical-based lasers which have been developed earlier. Reports indicate that a breakthrough in the Israeli effort came about 2.5 year and a half ago.
The Israeli team of scientists and engineers was able to create a technology to focus and stabilize the laser beams over distances and overcoming atmospheric disturbance.
This led to the development of effective interception technology. Lasers are concentrated beams of light that transmit large amounts of electromagnetic radiation against their targets.
The power of a laser is generally stated in kilowatts. The general idea of laser-beam weaponry is to hit a target with a train of brief pulses of light.
The rapid evaporation and expansion of the surface cause shockwaves that damage the target. When a laser beam strikes a target, it can cause the external surface to heat up rapidly.
This can cause a drone, or a rocket or a shell to burst in the sky. Lasers have some very important advantages. The speed of light enables them to hit their targets almost instantaneously.
Laser weapons also don’t need to carry ammunition like traditional systems and hence they will be able to take out a much larger number of threats constrained only by the power supply limit of the platform.
This is pretty significant as traditional air defense systems can run out of ammunitionwhen encountering a large number of incoming threats.
They are silent and invisible which makes them very much suitable for use in the urban landscape. They are also so much cheaper. The new system could cost as low as $3.50per interception.
This is very cost-effective compared to conventional interception systems like Iron Dome. Lasers do have their own issues. They are susceptible to weather conditions since they rely on optics in order to successfully hit the intended target. But as the technology matures, there is no reason to believe these challenges can’t be overcome by targeted effort. Israel’s expertise in developing air defense systems is well known.
The Israeli Defense Ministry stated, “If we successfully attach the system to an aircraft, we could overcome the hurdle of [unexpected] weather .
We could potentially intercept rocket fire right above the enemy’s heads,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett stated, “The Israeli mind keeps paving the way, the new laser project will turn Israel’s defense into deadlier and more advanced. It’s a clear message to our enemies, our capabilities are vast.”
A preemptive strike on Hamas is one way to make sure the group is unable to amass such a large quantity of rockets. But still, there is a need for a system that can complement the Iron Dome. The Israeli laser-based interception system appears to be a class above and if it works as stated, it will be a quantum leap.
A system like this could potentially be installed on land, sea and aerial platforms in the future. Apart from acting as a Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar solution, the system could be possibly used against drone swarms and hypersonic weapons going forward.
It is clear that Israel is thinking ahead and the latest events could see the laser system being prioritized when it comes to funding and effort.