Israel, US to work together on new laser weapon system

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Artist's rendering of a ground-based laser defense system. (Courtesy).

Rafael and Lockheed Martin to collaborate, “widen our multi-layered
air defense umbrella.”

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American Lockheed Martin companies will collaborate in the development of a ground-based laser weapon system.

The two companies announced on Tuesday their signing of a “principles of cooperation” agreement to build the system for Israel. The two businesses will also explore marketing the system in the U.S.

Unlike defense systems that use missiles to shoot down other missiles, lasers are capable of unlimited firings, cost less per intercept, require less manpower and operational resources, and leave no debris.

But Rafael and Lockheed Martin will have challenges to overcome. Lasers can only strike targets in their line of sight. Atmospheric conditions can impact their effectiveness. Keeping a laser fixed on a moving target long enough to destroy is a no simple matter. And militaries are exploring technologies to counter the effects of lasers.

But Israel’s Defense Ministry and Elbit Systems scored a major breakthrough in June by successfully testing an airborne high power laser system.

“Israel’s defense challenges underscored the vital importance of increasing Israel’s capability to address rocket attacks,” said Tim Cahill, Lockheed Martin’s senior vice president of global business development in a statement.

“We are honored to work with the Israeli government and industry to address this critical security need that will support Israel’s national security,” Cahill added.

“Rafael is a world-class defense company, and we look forward to expanding our existing collaboration by leveraging our respective capabilities in high-energy laser systems to address this growing threat.”

Ariel Karo, Rafael’s executive vice president of marketing and business development, said that the laser system’s capabilities “will widen our multi-layered air defense umbrella based on our wide mutual expertise and deep operational experience that is based on multi-disciplinary technologies and best-of-breed systems.”

The first tier of Israel’s missile defense, the better-known Iron Dome, protects Israel from short-range threats such as rockets fired by Gaza terror groups.

The second tier, David’s Sling, is designed to intercept medium range threats, such as Hezbollah’s medium and long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles and enemy aircraft.

The third tier, Arrow, was developed to intercept ballistic missiles flying in space.

The agreement comes amidst the backdrop of the IDF’s Momentum Plan, a multi-year program to create what some call a “sharper, more lethal” IDF.

The plan, unveiled in 2019 by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will digitally network the fighting units and see major investment in drones, precision-guided munitions, air defense systems and artificial intelligence.

(World Israel News).

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