Israel’s Ministry of Defense and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced the completion on Thursday of a ground-breaking series of tests using a high-powered, ground-based laser to intercept threats in the air.

During the trials, the laser shot down unmanned aerial vehicles, mortars, rockets and anti-tank missiles.

The system’s development plan is led by the Defense Ministry’s Research and Development Division in the Ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development. Rafael is the main developer in cooperation with Elbit Systems.

“About a month ago, we announced a full-scale development order to develop and produce a high-power laser defense system. Today marks the first time that a high-power, Israeli-made laser system successfully intercepted various targets, constituting a breakthrough on a global scale,” said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

“This is thanks to Israeli innovation, the defense establishment and the industries that provide security for Israeli citizens,” he said. “Our goal is to achieve operational status as soon as possible, which will enable an efficient, inexpensive and innovative means of defense. This system will save lives and will also allow operational flexibility.”

Israel is one of the first countries in the world to successfully develop high-power laser technology at an operational standard, stated the Defense Ministry, adding that it will complement the Iron Dome and integrate into Israel’s multi-tiered air defense array.

Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of Research and Development at the Directorate for Defense Research and Development, said “this is the first time we’ve succeeded in intercepting mortars, rockets, UAVs and anti-tank missiles from such challenging ranges and time intervals. The laser is a game-changer thanks to its easily operated system and significant economic advantages.”

The next step, he noted, “is to continue the development and initial system deployment within Israel. Our plan is to station multiple laser transmitters along Israel’s borders throughout the next decade. We will continue to simultaneously develop advanced capabilities, including the aerial laser.”

Rafael CEO Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Har-Even said: “I am confident that this technological breakthrough will lead to future capabilities in directed energy, including the high-power laser system. This achievement is the result of Rafael employees’ tireless work contributing to Israel’s security while preserving and development.”

JNS

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