Over the past 15 years, Israel has successfully developed a sophisticated multi-layered defense system designed to counter aerial threats posed by terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, pro-Iranian militias in Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen.
A noteworthy addition to Israel’s defense capabilities is the “Iron Beam” system from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. This innovation features a high-power laser designed to intercept various threats, including rockets, anti-tank missiles, drones, and mortar shells. Over a hundred engineers from Rafael have dedicated their efforts to this project, addressing one of the most significant technological challenges faced by Israeli defense industries. The goal is to create a rapid and effective interception system with ammunition that is virtually inexhaustible and cost-free.
Recent tests of the Iron Beam system in the Negev region have yielded promising results, demonstrating its successful interception of different airborne threats. At the core of the system is an electric laser pointer capable of precisely targeting and emitting a powerful, invisible laser beam.
Since the outbreak of the conflict on October 7, Israel has faced over 10,000 projectiles, with more than 3,000 launched in the initial hours of the war. Rafael and the Israeli Defense Ministry see this as an opportunity to test the Iron Beam under real combat conditions.
In an interview with the Calcalist newspaper, a program manager from Rafael’s Iron Beam project expressed ambitious goals for the defense system, stating, “Our aim is to reach a state where the enemy feels totally powerless. He has to understand that our laser pointers, deployed where needed, intercept and destroy all his attacks, almost instantly after they are launched, long before they reach Israeli territory or threaten anyone else. In such a scenario, the activation of warning sirens might even become unnecessary.”
The initial deployment of Iron Beam is slated for 2025, although efforts are underway to accelerate its development for potential service as early as 2024. This system is expected to complement the existing Iron Dome, offering a more cost-effective defense option compared to the approximately $50,000 cost per interceptor missile for the Iron Dome.