Military

"Iron Beam" laser weapon counters multiple targets in live fire tests

"Iron Beam" laser weapon count...
Iron Beam firing
Iron Beam firing
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Iron Beam firing
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Iron Beam firing
The Iron Beam laser weapon
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The Iron Beam laser weapon

Rafael has successfully tested its Iron Beam laser weapon in various scenarios against steep-track threats, including UAVs, mortars, rockets, and anti-tank missiles. The weapon is set to complement Israel's famous Iron Dome aerial defense system

With its ability to intercept incoming missiles using anti-missiles guided by a sophisticated radar tracking system, Iron Dome has chalked up a remarkable success rate in recent Middle Eastern conflicts. But it has a number of drawbacks. The missiles that are the heart of the system cost over US$100,000 per shot and it has trouble with incoming threats at close ranges under 4 km (2.5 miles).

In contrast, Iron Beam is an optical fiber laser that can lock onto targets at the speed of light and destroy them within five seconds at a range of up to 7 km (4.3 miles). How powerful the laser is hasn't been released, but it's projected to soon be in the range of hundreds of kilowatts. In addition, each laser round costs about a dollar a shot, not counting hardware costs, and the ammunition is unlimited as long as electricity is available.

The Iron Beam laser weapon
The Iron Beam laser weapon

The recent tests are part of the first phase of a program extending over several years by Rafael, other private companies and the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) to produce high-energy lasers that can be ground- or air-based and are capable of handling multiple threats in conjunction with Iron Dome.

“The completion of these innovative tests using a high-power laser is just the beginning of our vision," said Head of R&D at (DDR&D) Brigadier General Yaniv Rotem. "This is the first time we’ve succeeded in intercepting mortars, rockets, and UAVs from such challenging ranges and time intervals. The laser is a game-changer thanks to its easily operated system and significant economic advantages. The next step is to continue the development and initial system deployment within Israel. Our plan is to station multiple laser transmitters along Israel’s borders throughout the next decade. We will continue to simultaneously develop advanced capabilities, including the aerial laser."

Source: Rafael

10 comments
10 comments
notarichman
if a missile travels at 500 mph = 800 kph about = 13 kilometers per second...that missile will hit it's target before being destroyed at 7 km (taking 5 seconds).
they need to have bigger range and more power.
guzmanchinky
A laser defense makes sense, as long as there isn't too much cloud cover, I'm guessing?
Ornery Johnson
Not_a_rich_man: There are 3600 seconds in an hour. You meant to say 13 kilometers per minute, or 4.6 sec per kilometer. So, yes, this system could take down a 500 mph mortar or missle.
michael_dowling
notarichman : No,check your figures. 13 KPS is hypersonic speed,about 46,800 KPH, 800 KPH is about 222 𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 per second.
noteugene
Agreed. For this to be a game changer, range will need to increase significantly.
paul314
13 km per second is well over escape velocity. If someone had invented a single-stage-to-orbit mortar or cheap missile, they'd be doing other things with it. 800 kph is a little more than 1/5 of a kilometer per second, which means 5 seconds dwell time is about a kilometer. So there are situations where you would need a faster system. (On the other hand, if people are firing from 1km or less, you can just fire at them with conventional weapons.)
sally
These are first gen weapons so of course power and range will need to improve over time but nothing would get off the CAD screen if the limitations of first gen decided whether they actually do get produced and thus in a position to further develop through experience. In the meantime they will be a good back up to other weapons and will excel at talking out drones and similar threats and these systems can often be very symbiotic to those systems too even potentially improving those systems and the overall joint defence provided. These appear to be towards the forefront of what is presently achievable in a practical laser system.
Maatchu
They can detect the missile pretty far away so could mount this on a plane to extend the range? Otherwise just shoot it at the missile in range..
windykites
The laser would need to detonate the warhead, not just disable the steering mechanism. Destroying a mortar calls for incredible speed and accuracy.
Andy Machala
Gosh, I hope nobody figures out to chrome plate their weapons, or put reflectors on them to reflect the beam back at the weapon itself. Oops - did I let out a secret defense?