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Israeli laser defense system shoots down drones in tests

25 Jun 2021

Effective range of “more than 1km” claimed by developers Ministry of Defense and Elbit Systems.

The Directorate of Defense R&D in Israel’s Ministry of Defense (MoD), together with Elbit Systems and the Israeli Air Force, has successfully brought down several UAVs (drones) using an airborne High-Power Laser Weapon System (HPL-WS). The UAVs were intercepted at various ranges and flight altitudes, said the partners.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz commented, “I would like to congratulate the Directorate for Defense R&D, Elbit Systems and the IAF on the technological breakthrough they have achieved. They have brought us closer to yet another important milestone in the development of Israel’s multi-tier defense array.

“It is significant both in terms of cost-effectiveness and defense capabilities. The laser system will add a new layer of protection at greater ranges and in facing a variety of threats while saving the costs of interception.“

The test series was conducted under the leadership of the Directorate of Defense R&D in the Israel Ministry of Defense. During this series, a High-Power Laser system was installed on an aircraft and was tested in a number of scenarios. It successfully intercepted and destroyed all of the UAVs that were launched throughout the test.

Intercept and destroy

The ability to intercept and destroy airborne threats in the air is groundbreaking, according to the developers, and offers a strategic change in Israel’s air defense capabilities. The tests were conducted at a test site in cental Israel, in close cooperation with the IAF and the "Yanat" unit.

Israel is among the first countries in the world to achieve and demonstrate such capabilities employing an airborne, High-Power Laser system. This test series is the first phase in a multi-year program led by the Directorate of Defense R&D and Elbit Systems to develop a laser system against a variety of long-range threats.

This method of airborne interception has many advantages, including a low cost per interception, the ability to effectively intercept long-range threats at high altitudes regardless of weather conditions, and the ability to defend vast areas.

Head of Research and Development in the DDR&D, Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem said, “The Directorate of Defense R&D in the Ministry of Defense, Elbit and the IAF have completed a series of tests employing a powerful, airborne laser system. We successfully intercepted several UAVs in the air, within a range of more than 1km.“

General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR, Oren Sabag said, “The trials were successful thanks to a range of unique technological assets. We believe that the use of a high-power laser to carry out low-cost airborne interception of rockets and hostile unmanned aircraft, closer to their launching areas and away from population centers, offers a significant change in Israel’s defense capabilities.”

Video explainer

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