Iron Beam

Iron Beam (Hebrew: קֶרֶן בַּרְזֶל, keren barzel) is an air defense system which is in development by Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.[1] Unveiled at the Singapore Air Show on February 11, 2014.[2] The system is designed to destroy short-range rockets, artillery, and mortars with a range of up to 7 km (4.3 mi), too small for the Iron Dome system to intercept effectively.[1] In addition, the system could also intercept unmanned aerial vehicles.[3] Iron Beam will use a "directed high energy laser beam" to destroy hostile targets with ranges of up to 7 kilometres (4.3 mi).[1][4] Iron Beam will constitute the fifth element of Israel's integrated air defense system,[1] in addition to Arrow 2, Arrow 3, David's Sling, and Iron Dome.[5] However, Iron Beam is also a stand-alone system.[3]

Iron Beam
TypeLaser air defense system
Place of originIsrael
Service history
In serviceUnknown
Used byIsrael
Production history
DesignerRafael Advanced Defense Systems
ManufacturerRafael Advanced Defense Systems

Iron Beam uses a fiber laser to destroy an airborne target within 4–5 seconds of firing. Whether acting as a stand-alone system or with external cueing as part of an air-defense system, a threat is detected by a surveillance system and tracked by vehicle platforms in order to engage. The main benefits of using a directed energy weapon over conventional missile interceptors are lower costs per shot, an unlimited magazine, lower operational costs, and less manpower. Though the system may not cost less than missiles, operating it has lower life-cycle costs. Limited details that have been released. As of February 2014, the system had successfully targeted mortar and artillery shells in over 100 tests and engaged and destroyed small UAVs. Current power levels are at "tens of kilowatts" and planned to be increased to hundreds of kW.[6] Iron Beam has so far been funded mainly by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and Rafael is awaiting a decision on whether they will choose to operate the system. Rafael is also pursuing increasing the range of the system and partnering with other companies to further develop the prototype.[6] If sufficiently funded, the Iron Beam could be operational in two to three years.[7] However, in 2015 it was speculated that it would take at least 5 years until it becomes operational.[8]

The system is based on five years of research and development in solid-state lasers and is developed by Rafael, funded by the MoD, and extensively underwritten by the United States. An Iron Beam battery is mobile and composed of an air defense radar, a command and control (C2) unit, and two HEL systems.[9]

See also


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