The life-saving impact of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system is very well known. We have all seen the footage and heard the delayed booming sound effect of an intercepted missile coming shortly after the image of that missile exploding.
Those pictures and videos have been featured on news programs and social media sites over the past several years — but have been especially featured and appreciated in response to the massive barrages of terrorist missiles launched at Israel since Oct. 7.
The advanced technology and efficacy of Iron Dome is impressive. The system is 90% effective in neutralizing incoming missiles. But it is also very expensive. Each Iron Dome battery (from which the individual defensive rockets are launched) can cost $100 million. And each rocket interceptor costs between $40,000 and $50,000. When the interceptor cost is multiplied by the thousands of rockets and missiles launched by Hamas and other terror partners, the price tag of Israel’s Iron Dome system is staggering.
In addition to cost, there are also practical limitations. Each Iron Dome battery has an average of 60-80 interceptor missiles. If Hamas or Hezbollah fires 100 missiles at the area covered by that single battery, the system would be overwhelmed, and innocent populations could be put at risk during the time it takes to restock the missile battery.
But what if Israel had a laser defense system, fueled by electricity, that could fire an unlimited magazine of defensive laser beams to target and destroy incoming mortars and rockets at a fraction of the Iron Dome missile system’s costs and with added accuracy and reliability? Such a system could be a game-changer for Israel. And according to reports, Israel has engaged in a limited deployment of exactly such a system and full implementation is almost there.
Israel’s new Iron Beam system wasn’t supposed to be in service for a few more years. But as part of the Hamas war effort, Iron Beam technology is being woven into Iron Dome usage, to destroy, among other things, short-range projectiles that are too close for the Iron Dome to be fully effective.
Iron Beam’s current technology has limitations — the most important of which seems to be its limited range — as the laser beam dissipates over distance. And some weather-related concerns could impact performance. According to reports, the U.S. military and companies like Lockheed Martin have joined with Israel’s Ministry of Defense and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (Israel’s private industry Iron Beam partner) to develop additional technologies to deal with the challenges. And the U.S. military has expressed interest in the possible integration of Iron Beam into existing U.S. laser technology defense programs.
The close to zero cost of firing defensive laser beam interceptors after the system is developed, manufactured and installed and the remarkable reliability and efficiency of the defensive response make the Iron Beam system very attractive. With those incentives, we have little doubt that Israel and its research partners will solve the remaining laser and technology issues.
A fully functional Iron Beam laser defense program will save Israeli lives and frustrate terrorist efforts to rain rockets, mortars and destruction over the people of Israel. With the threats facing Israel growing daily, an enhanced defensive shield is both necessary and timely.