Israel and US testing microwave and laser weapons - report

Iran launching drone credit: dpa via Reuters Connect
Iran launching drone credit: dpa via Reuters Connect

Microwave and laser systems to down swarms of drones have negligible costs compared with interception systems like Iron Dome.

The US and Israel are now testing microwave and laser weapon systems to combat drones that are being developed by private companies, "The Wall Street Journal" reports. The advantage of these armaments systems is economic.

While each interception by Iron Dome, for example, costs about $30,000, the cost of a laser interception is almost negligible. Figures published by the UK Ministry of Defense about the DragonFire laser interception system currently being developed, puts the cost of each interception at an estimated £10 (NIS 47).

Moreover, microwave and laser systems offer the ability to keep firing for as long as they have power, allowing the system to help take down a swarm of drones without running out of ammunition.

Israel's efforts in laser interception technology is invested in the Iron Beam system in which Rafael Advance Development Systems is developing a launcher and Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE:ESLT) is providing the laser itself. Using a 100 kilowatt laser, the system is designed to intercept various rockets. When recently interviewed by "Globes," Col. (res.) Niv Cohen, Rafael VP and head of land maneuvers division, which is responsible for the development of Iron Beam, confirmed that the system is expected to become operational in 2025.

But following Iran's attack on Israel last weekend by 185 drones, 36 cruise missiles and 110 ballistic missiles, Israel needs a more immediate response for coping with swarms of drones that is not based on interceptor missiles.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports that US startup Epirus, which specializes in high-powered microwave weapons, said it could have some of its systems deployed in the Middle East by the summer if the US Army gives the green light, and 10 systems by the end of the year.

To down swarms of drones with one interception cluster

Microwave-based air defense systems have been developed in the US for some years by both the military and private companies. These are non-kinetic electromagnetic weapons through which a microwave disables electronic components critical to the enemy's means of attack. In this manner, swarms of drones can be brought down together in one intercept cluster.

Another major player in microwave weaponry is US defense company Raytheon unit RTX, which has a US military contract for high-power microwave counterdrone systems, with the first prototypes scheduled for delivery next year. This is an interesting situation because Israel's Rafael, which manufactures the Iron Dome system, leads the David's Sling medium-range missile defense system in partnership with Raytheon. In addition, two months ago Rafael and Raytheon inaugurated a manufacturing facility for its R2S joint venture in East Camden, Arkansas, in which the Tamir missile will be produced for Iron Dome and its variant, the SkyHunter missile to be used by US Marine Corps and US allies.

The reason why Raytheon and Rafael operate both in missile interception systems like Iron Dome and David's Sling as well as in microwave and laser interception systems, is that those new systems will be a complementary layer - not a replacement. Microwave and laser systems are limited in range in relation to Iron Dome and the efficiency of the laser decreases in different situations and conditions such as cloudy weather.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on April 18, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Iran launching drone credit: dpa via Reuters Connect
Iran launching drone credit: dpa via Reuters Connect
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