IDF Laser Beams to Intercept Mortar Shells?
Mortar shells are less powerful than Katyusha rockets, but have been lethally used against Israel by terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge. Both Boeing and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Ltd. (Israel’s second largest defense company) are working on laser defense systems against this threat.
IsraelDefense reports that Rafael’s system is known as Iron Beam, and could become operational within five years. Boeing, too, is working on a system, called “High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator”, which could be ready by mid-to-late 2017.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system cannot be used against the hundreds or thousands of mortar shells expected to be fired during a war, for economic and logistical reasons. A laser-based solution, however, would be effective, reasonably-priced, and would enable forces to maneuver with minimum risk.
Peggy Morse, VP of Boeing’s Directed Energy & Strategic Systems, told IsraelDefense that her company’s system is “only a prototype at the moment, but we can present an operational system within two years. The advantage of this system is the cost/interception ratio compared to the use of interceptors. It can produce 150-200 shots between two cooling cycles, and thousands of shots in a 24-hour timeframe.”
She estimated that 50 such systems
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