Israel Unveils Star Wars-Like Laser Defense

Monday, February 24, 2014 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems recently unveiled a new laser-based missile defense system that officials said was like something straight out of Star Wars.

Dubbed the "Iron Beam" - a play on the currently-active Iron Dome missile defense system - the new weapon uses fast-acting radars and laser beams to superheat the warheads of incoming short-range rockets.

The Iron Beam would fill a gap left by the Iron Dome, which is capable of downing medium range missiles, but is not quick enough to defend against short range projectiles like Gaza's locally-produced Kassam rockets.

The idea of a fast-firing laser defense system has certainly sparked the imagination of many in Israel, not least of all Rafael's own engineers.

The Iron Beam is "exactly like what you see in 'Star Wars,'" Amit Zimmer, a spokesman for the company, told the Associated Press. "You see the lasers go up so quickly, like a flash, and the target is finished."

The Iron Beam was officially presented the next Singapore Air Show earlier this month. While the system works, it remains in active development, with Rafael saying it requires more funding from the government in order to install higher power lasers, at which point the Iron Beam could be ready for deployment.

In addition to the Iron Beam and Iron Dome, Israel continues to develop the David's Sling to defend against short-to-medium range ballistic missiles, and the Arrow 3, which can destroy long-range ballistic missiles in space.

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