Minister of Defense Benny Gantz has approved a huge order for the development and production of a high-power laser system for intercepting rockets and mortar shells. NIS 500 million will initially be allocated to the system. As further systems are procured, the allocation will grow to several billion shekels.
Mafat (the Ministry of Defense Directorate of Defense Research and Development) has released first pictures of a powerful laser emitter, a technological breakthrough that will enable the system to go ahead. In the coming days, the Ministry of Defense will sign an order from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. for development of its "Iron Beam" system, which will be integrated into Israel's air defenses, and will be significantly cheaper and more effective than any other means of defense.
In an interview with "Globes" in January, Brigadier General Eyal Harel, head of the IDF General Staff Planning Division, revealed that the system could be operational towards the end of 2023.
At the same time, Elbit Systems (TASE: ESLT; Nasdaq: ESLT) continues to develop an airborne version of the laser system designed both to protect aircraft and to enable aircraft to hit missiles aimed at Israel, intercepting them even before they approach their targets.
This morning, Gantz toured Rafael together with head of Mafat Brig. Gen. (res.) Yaniv Rotem, Rafael CEO Yoav Har-Even, and Elbit Systems VP Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Oren Sabag, who displayed the system to him. The laser system will provide protection against a wide range of threats such as rockets, mortar shells, and UAVs, and is meant to complement the Iron Dome system.
"We are taking a dramatic and important step today towards change in the battle arena, and an upgrade in the defense of Israel's people against developing threats on our borders, from Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria from terrorist organizations sponsored by Iran," Gantz said. "The high-power laser represents strategic change in the defense of the home front, in the IDF's operational flexibility, and in the strategic flexibility available to the political leadership. I am sure that alongside the operational and security achievement, our investment will also lead to considerable economic gain to the State of Israel and to collaboration with many friendly countries."
"Rafael is proud to lead the development and supply of the Iron Beam system, a high-power laser system that is the first of its kind in the world. After many years of research and development, we see this strategic program as a significant milestone in the upgrading of Israel's air defenses," said Har-Even. "We have done this over the past decade with the development of the Iron Dome system and David's Sling systems, which incorporate ground-breaking technology thanks to which Israel is the spearhead of air defense, and I have no doubt that we shall do this again in lasers. I thank the Ministry of Defense for its confidence and for leading this important development."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 17, 2022.
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