- Tram Ho
Today, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has announced that it has successfully intercepted many drones during the test of a high-intensity laser weapon in the air. The system is hailed as “a strategic change in the air defense capabilities of the State of Israel” and could be an important addition to the country’s multi-layered integrated air defense system. Although the new high-intensity laser weapon has already been tested against UAVs, the announcement made by defense officials this time, accompanied by a grand display, shows that the system will also be used by Israel. used against missile attacks.
According to TheDrive, the high-intensity laser demonstration was conducted by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) “Yanat” missile testing unit, the Israel Defense Research and Development Board (DDR&D), and the contractor. Israel Defense Elbit Systems. A press release released at the same time as the announcement stated that many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were intercepted and destroyed in the sky above the test area with a new aerial laser system. Footage shared online shows the system being deployed on a Cessna 208 Caravan, positioned behind a window on the left side of the rear fuselage. Few details regarding the capabilities of this laser system have been revealed, but DDR&D Director of Research and Development, Brig. Gene. Yaniv Rotem, said the system successfully intercepted the drones at a distance of more than 1km.
Aerial laser systems possess many advantages over ground laser systems by being transported by aircraft and thus being able to quickly move between different locations. This increases flexibility in responding to UAV threats wherever they are present, while extending the system’s “coverage” to a much larger area, especially when compared to a corresponding geostationary system.
An airborne anti-drone system would also be less susceptible to atmospheric fluctuations than ground-based systems. In general, laser-guided energy weapons have certain limitations, such as being susceptible to atmospheric, cloud, and smoke conditions. Like any other weapon system, their size, mass, heat, and intensity significantly limit their effectiveness against different threats, or even the scale of their deployment across the globe. different planes.
Israel’s new airborne laser system is said to be capable of “effectively interfering with long-range threats at high altitudes regardless of weather conditions”, although the Israeli Defense Ministry has previously said the Laser systems do not work well in inclement weather or through clouds. However, laser systems still have many advantages over dynamic interceptors, namely, the cost per intercept will be much lower despite the initial investment, research and development costs. relatively high potential.
The above cost-per-interceptor advantage is an important reason why Israel is determined to develop this new airborne laser air defense system. Defense official Benny Gantz said the new system’s performance was “remarkable in terms of both cost-effectiveness and defensive capabilities”, and that it “will add a new layer of protection at range.” further, as well as in response to a wide range of threats – contributing to the defense of the State of Israel while ensuring cost savings on interception”.
Although in the latest demonstration, Israel’s high-intensity laser weapons only shot down UAVs, statements by Israeli officials – who were involved in the development of the program – suggest that the system also offers a tool. completely new to Israel’s growing missile defense arsenal. Oren Sabag, General Manager of Elbit Systems Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Accquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) said “the use of a high-intensity laser system to carry out aerial missile and UAV interception missions, close to the area.” launch zones and away from population centers, at a low cost, would bring about a significant change in Israel’s defense capabilities.”
Last year, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced a “technological breakthrough” involving an airborne laser system being co-developed with Elbit Systems. The system is said to cost just $1 per interception, compared to “tens of thousands of dollars in the cost of each Iron Dome interceptor”. Israel is also working on a range of laser weapons mounted on drones and other ground systems.
Israel’s new high-intensity air-to-air laser system complements Israel’s existing multi-level missile defense network, which includes Iron Dome (Iron Dome) surface-to-air missile systems, Patriot, David’s Sling, and Arrow, as well as manned fighters and helicopters. The need for a multi-layered solution to low-level threats has been evident in recent conflicts, when Israel has been subjected to repeated large-scale missile attacks from the Palestinians, put Iron Dome before difficult trials.
The Iron Dome and its Tamir interceptor missile are said to be capable of shooting down drones and short-range missiles and cannons, but it’s unclear how effective they are. In the most recent conflicts, the IDF has shot down several UAVs flying over the Gaza Strip, but it is unclear which defense systems deployed the interceptors.
It is known that Israel is increasingly being attacked by drones than before, and those low-level threats continuously pose challenges to existing defenses, which are designed to intercept missiles. or the rocket follows a predictable trajectory. The emergence of low-end drones with the ability to carry out targeted attacks is becoming a global security issue, and even relatively small drones can have a large-scale impact. large when targeting infrastructure or high-value targets.
It is conceivable that Israel will deploy more advanced versions of this system in the skies above key areas such as Gaza or along the border with Lebanon in times of crisis, to provide an effective anti-drone capability. high fruit. Integrating it into an unmanned system in the future would be an ideal solution, creating a combat-ready drone defense system.
Another thing worth considering is that one of the advantages of lasers is that they can, at least in principle, fire continuously and endlessly, as long as there is a constant and adequate power supply. This is extremely important when you want to answer the question of whether it can overcome existing defenses, like Iron Dome, or not. Also, each individual laser system can only intercept one target at a time, and there can be significant lag between individual intercepts depending on how long the high-intensity laser takes. to recharge.
Israel’s development of a high-intensity airborne laser system aimed at intercepting and destroying UAV threats demonstrates the importance of anti-drone capabilities in the air defense strategy. Although airborne laser systems have been developed and tested by the US Air Force since the 1980s with some success. Israel was the first country to actually deploy an anti-drone laser system on an aircraft and it worked. The latest statement celebrates the technological breakthroughs of the Israeli Defense Ministry.
What is not clear at the moment is what type of laser system is being used, and the output intensity and other limitations. As for the test setup, it clearly demonstrated limited scope, but that will change in the future. We also don’t know what model of operation will be done with a system like this. Will the integrated sensors on the aircraft aim to provide. Can the onboard biosensors detect and target targets coming from outside sources? And yet, what kind of platform will be where this laser unit will perform its first mission?
The US Air Force still plans to deploy the laser device but this system on the AC-130 warship, but the system is being considered for equipping surface-to-air systems. At the same time, a much more ambitious move is to place a seemingly protective laser defense system on a fighter jet. But Israel’s approach to providing anti-drone capability with an airborne laser system, something the US Navy has never used in a real mission, is complicated.
However, there are still challenges ahead. It will be interesting to see the IAF and its research units overcome the challenges they are trying to put the laser system into real missions.
Source : Genk