Close to a year after the conflict marred the Gaza Strip in May last year, Israel's Ministry of Defense has tested its new laser-based missile defense system called Iron Beam, AP News reported.
פריצת דרך עולמית במערכת יירוט הלייזר: משרד הביטחון ורפאל יירטו לראשונה בעולם רקטות, פצמ״רים, טילי נ״ט ומל״טים באמצעות מערכת הלייזר. זו הפעם הראשונה שמוצגת יכולת מוכחת לשימוש בנשק אנרגיה. תוך כשנה המערכת צפויה להיכנס לשימוש ראשוני בעוטף עזה@GLZRadio pic.twitter.com/nGp8pgf6PE— דורון קדוש | Doron Kadosh (@Doron_Kadosh) April 14, 2022
During the conflict last year, Israel's forces had relied on the Iron Dome system to protect its territory from incoming aerial threats. With a reported accuracy of 90 percent, the aerial defense system not only blocked aerial threats but also inspired the U.S. military to buy these systems and South Korea to develop something similar of its own.
Iron Dome: Too expensive to deploy
Apart from its unique capabilities, the Iron Dome system is quite expensive to deploy. As Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the media, a rocket launched from the country's adversary costs a few hundred dollars while Israeli defense using the Iron Dome costs the country tens of thousands of dollars.
The Ministry of Defence, therefore, has decided to move to a laser-based interception system that is equally accurate but costs only a few dollars to fire. Bennet pegged the price of each strike to a measly $3.50. This is the same rationale being used by the U.S. military as it develops its own directed energy weapons to counter aerial threats.
While the details of the effectiveness of the Iron Beam have not been revealed, the system test demonstrated its effectiveness against a wide range of aerial threats.
IMOD's DDR&D and Rafael successfully completed ground-breaking tests with a high-power laser interception system against steep-track threats. The demonstrator successfully intercepted UAVs, mortars, rockets, and anti-tank missiles in multiple scenarios. pic.twitter.com/DhHzCaGM8P— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) April 14, 2022
The tests were carried out last month in the Negev Desert and the system is expected to be pushed into service within a year's time, AP News reported. When ready, the system will be deployed on land, at sea as well as in the air, ministry officials added.