ANALYSIS: Israel’s Stunning New Game-Changing Weapons
Israel remains woefully outnumbered, but its qualitative edge makes it the most powerful military in the region
The Israeli army (IDF) is known as one of the best in the world and is in possession of the most modern weapons on earth. Yet terror organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas are regularly causing mayhem with rather primitive rockets and even kites (Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad).
This situation has been going on for years, but now new state-of-the-art weapons will change the way the Israeli army deals with these lethal threats.
Israel Laser Weapon, No 1
At the end of December 2019, the IDF introduced a laser system with the name ‘Light Blade’ that will deal with the ‘Kite Jihad’ the relentless attempts to set alight fields and forests in southern Israel with so-called incendiary balloons and kites.
The Light Blade will shoot down these kites and balloons before they can reach Israel. The laser system is capable of shooting down targets within a range of two kilometers and is mobile.
The system will now be deployed along the Gaza border and the border with Lebanon from where Hezbollah last summer also sporadic launched attacks with incendiary balloons and kites.
Iron Dome Comes of Age
Then, there is the latest version of the Iron Dome rocket-shield.
Israeli media reported on Monday that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems LTD together with the Israeli Ministry of Defense had concluded a series of tests with the latest version of the Iron Dome, a very successful interceptor used against Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Although the Iron Dome prevented in many instances casualties on the Israeli side its interception rate stood at 90 percent.
A decade after its introduction, the Iron Dome shield is now capable of intercepting 100 percent of the incoming rockets.
“We have completed a series of tests with a success rate of 100 percent. The system intercepted all threats, which were simulated in an area secured for the purpose of the experiment,” Pini Yungman the vice president of Rafael told reporters.
Iron Dome (old version) has intercepted a staggering 2.400 rockets to date and has also been used in the north of Israel during confrontations with Iranian forces and their proxies.
The same Rafael Company announced on Sunday it had upgraded its successful SPIKE-SR anti-tank missile which is sold to at least 34 countries around the world.
The ultra-light (10 kg) SPIKE-SR can now hit targets within a range of two kilometers and will be used by the infantry.
SPIKE-SR is the smallest version of the anti-tank missile and has a High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead and is able to penetrate its target despite the presence of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) tiles.
Gal Papier, head of marketing and business development at Rafael’s Precision Tactical Weapon Systems directorate said that SPIKE-SR ” proved to be as lethal as other large caliber missiles, with great agility for the warfighter due to its lightweight, as well as its ability to act rapidly within six seconds from a cold start, engaging fast-moving targets, highly-demanded capabilities in today’s warfare.”
Israel Laser Weapon, No 2
Then there was the announcement of the Israeli Defense Ministry on Wednesday last week that engineers of the Ministry together with their counterparts of Rafael en Elbit Systems had developed a laser system that can deal with all sorts of aerial attacks but also with an incoming anti-tank missiles.
The system is still under development but experts say it is a real game-changer and constitutes a breakthrough in the attempts to develop lasers for military use.
Israel has been working on chemical laser weapons since the nineties of the last century but temporary shelved the project due to severe technical problems.
Instead, the Jewish state worked with the United States to develop interception missile shields such as Iron Dome and the Arrow which can take-out long-range guided missiles.
Interceptor Missiles Cost a Lot. Lasers Don’t
The development and the use of these interception missile shields is extremely costly, however, with the firing of one Iron Dome missile, for example, costing between $50,000 and $60,000.
With Israel now facing the prospect of a multi-front missile war that will, according to experts, witness a rain of up to 1.500 missiles per day on Israeli cities, military and civil infrastructure such a war could bring the Jewish state to its knees financially speaking.
The use of the new high-energy laser will cost only a couple of dollars per shot, however.
The new laser system will make “the security apparatus more lethal, more powerful and more advanced,” according to Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett.
“We will add a laser sword when dealing with threats from the North or the South,” the former high-tech entrepreneur added.
Dawn of a New Era
Brig.-Gen. Yaniv Rotem the director of the Directorate of Research and Development, of the Israeli Defense Ministry, said “we are entering a new age of energy warfare in the air, on land, and at sea. The R&D investments made by the Directorate of Defense in recent years have placed the State of Israel among the leading countries in the field of high-energy laser systems.”
The development of the new laser system started in 2009 and saw a major breakthrough in 2019 when engineers of the Defense Ministry, Rafael and Elbit succeeded to target and stabilize the laser beam on long-range targets while overcoming atmospheric disturbances.
The Defense Ministry has now launched three programs with the first step developing a ground laser system that will be used as a supplement to Iron Dome.
The second phase entails the development of a mobile system for the protection of ground forces during battle.
A third project is the integration of the new laser in a drone such as the Heron of Israel Aerospace Industries.
Such a drone would be able to target incoming projectiles far from Israel’s borders and make the current build-up of missiles in Syria and Iraq useless.
Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah with its 140,000 missiles, the Iranian-founded Golan Liberation Brigade and the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in Iran have yet to respond to the announcement of the Israeli Defense Ministry.