Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told news media on Thursday that the country’s new air-defense system has effectively intercepted and destroyed a variety of incoming projectiles, ranging from mortars and missiles to drones, in recent testing.
We’re talking about the ‘Iron Beam,’ a new laser-based interception device. According to Gantz, the system will be operational soon and will be implemented along Israel’s borders over the following decade. The new system is intended to supplement the country’s existing air-defense systems, such as the Iron Dome, which are used to defend against hostile mortars, anti-tank missiles, and drones.
So, what makes this system unique in a world where many other countries are researching similar technology and effective anti-missile defence systems abound? The answer could be found in the operating costs.
Israel has consistently stated that its Iron Dome missile defence system has been a huge success. It is said to have a 90% interception rate against incoming rockets. However, the system is costly to install.
According to a news outlet, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that while someone in Gaza can launch a rocket at Israel for a few hundred dollars, intercepting that rocket costs tens of thousands of dollars.
Bennett claims the ‘Iron Beam’ is the “world’s first energy-based weapons system,” employing a laser to take down UAVs, rockets, and mortars at a “cost of $3.50 each shot.” At the current exchange rate, that works out to Rs 267 in Indian rupees each shot.
It’s unknown how many’shots’ on target would be required to knock down, say, an opposing UAV armoured against energy weapons. However, it is still a significant accomplishment. In most Indian cities, you won’t be able to obtain a great pizza for that price.
While sources disagree on specifics, the Iron Beam is thought to have a maximum range of up to 7 kilometres and is capable of destroying missiles in roughly four seconds after making contact with their target with its twin fiber-optic lasers.
Tamir interceptor missiles are used by the Iron Dome to bring down rockets or missiles aimed at Israeli targets. Those interceptor rockets are expensive. Instead, the new device can illuminate a target with a laser beam for a tenth of the price of the Iron Dome.