Israel Approves About $150 Million Toward Laser Defense System

The Iron Beam laser air-defense system, the first of its kind in the world to prove effective in tests, is expected to be partly funded by the United States

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Israel successfully tests laser missile interception system, this month.
Israel successfully tests laser missile interception system, in April.Credit: Ariel Hermoni, Ministry of Defense
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The ministerial committee for procurement of arms has approved more than 500 million shekels ($148.8 million) in funding toward the development of an advanced laser-based rocket interception system named Iron Beam, to be built by defense technology company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

The committee, whose meetings and their contents are being kept secret, approved Defense Minister Benny Gantz's budget proposal for the system a few days ago. Payment is to be spread out over six years, and is formally allocated toward "the development and procurement of an advanced surface-to-air defense system, along with an air-to-air system that can be installed on planes." The budget for the latter has not been discussed in the meeting.

Formal approval of the program's budget, which is to be taken from the Defense Ministry's budget, will allow engineers to formulate a long-term testing and development plan and prepare for the system's procurement.

Cabinet ministers approved funding for the system after it was showcased to U.S. President Joe Biden during his state visit to Israel last month, and following a series of successful preliminary tests. This makes the system the first of its kind in the world to have proven real-world military application.

Sources involved in the project predict that the American government will want to take part in the funding and future development of the system, although how exactly the cooperation will take shape remains to be seen.

Last April, the defense establishment revealed that over the last few weeks it had tested a laser-based rocket interception system in southern Israel, which successfully took down targets including drones, mortar bombs, rockets and anti-tank missiles.

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