The US and Israel will work together to develop a 100-kW laser weapon system

Rafael and Lockheed Martin have agreed to work together to make different kinds of IRON BEAM HELWS to sell in the U.S. and other places.
Christopher McFadden
Lockheed Martin joins the team developing the IRON BEAM.


Lockheed Martin and Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have just signed a "teaming deal" for the development, testing, and production of High Energy Laser Weapon Systems (HELWS) in both the United States and Israel, according to a press release by Lockheed Martin.

The assets that RAFAEL and the Israeli Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) of the Ministry of Defense made for the IRON BEAM project will be the basis for the upcoming joint development. The collaboration, Lockheed Martin says, will focus on creating a variation of the system for the American market and other markets.

The IRON BEAM project was started by the Israeli Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) of the Ministry of Defense after years of cooperative development between RAFAEL and DDR&D. Several system tests conducted over the previous year demonstrated the system's operational viability.

What is IRON BEAM?

IRON BEAM is a 100 kW-class high-energy laser weapon system (HELWS) that will offer engagement at the speed of light. It is expected to be the first ground-based air defense system to protect against threats like rockets, mortars, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

"This strategic teaming agreement serves as a force multiplier for RAFAEL and the Israeli market. We are working to ensure our customers receive the most advanced, effective, and best in class systems. This agreement will expand and diversify the capabilities we can offer to a variety of customers," said RAFAEL CEO and President Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Yoav Har-Even.

"Over the last three decades, alongside the DDR&D and the Israeli Ministry of Defense, RAFAEL has invested in laser research and development, resulting in IRON BEAM and we expect to become the first operational laser defense system of its kind. This serves as a clear example of Israeli-made capabilities leading to strategic cooperation which will greatly benefit both sides," he added.

How will IRON BEAM be used?

IRON BEAM will be used in Israel's multi-layered air defense system. The solution will be cheap and easy to use, and it will be able to protect population centers, critical infrastructure, strategic locations, and maneuver forces from new threats.

"Lockheed Martin’s mission is to deliver the best security solutions that help our customers stay ahead of their adversaries. Working with Rafael, our joint team will help bring this new, life-saving capability to our customers,” said Lockheed Martin Chief Operating Officer Frank St. John.

“This unique capability will enhance Israel’s vital air and missile defense system with state-of-the-art laser technology, and we are honored by the opportunity to expand Lockheed Martin’s role as a security teammate for the State of Israel," he added.

"We see the capability of IRON BEAM which was developed alongside the DDR&D as a technological breakthrough, with its proven effectiveness against some of the most sophisticated threats including rockets, mortars, drones and UAVs, including in swarms."

According to Rafael's Executive Vice President and Head of the Land and Naval Systems Directorate, Dr. Ran Gozali, the system is designed to defend against emerging threats in today's complex battlefield, bolstering the Israeli Homefront and serving as a catalyst for forging bilateral collaborations. 

"Lockheed Martin is entering a new area of operations in Israel. As a leader of technology, our aerial platforms, such as F-35, F-16, C-130 and more, have been operational in Israel for many years and including CH-53K, these will continue to be into the future. Now, we step into the high-energy laser era and look forward to fielding operational, reliable, and highly-effective systems with teammates such as Rafael,” said Joshua (Shiki) Shani, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin Israel, in the statement. 

Lockheed Martin can do the whole threat engagement, from finding the threat to defeating it, because it has spent years designing, making, and testing systems and critical parts.

Lockheed Martin has designed, built, and tested systems and critical subsystems that have done the whole threat engagement, from finding the threat to defeating it, for decades. The press release explains that Lockheed Martin has a lot of experience because it has spent decades making prototypes of systems that have worked well against different targets.

The companies will develop and field this HELWS and explore additional opportunities to provide this critical capability to the United States and elsewhere.

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