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Neotilus laser project (Archive photo)
Neotilus laser project (Archive photo) 
 
 

US laser technology could beat Qassams

Representatives for leading US defense company tour Israel, offer to complete Nautilus project, which involves the development of laser batteries capable of intercepting and destroying mortars and rockets in the air

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 06.20.06, 08:45 / Israel News

A project to build a laser canon to shoot down short-range rockets, known in Israel as Nautilus, has been halted.

 

The US military announced months ago it has no intention of completing the project.

 

Budgetary issues and questions regarding the worthiness of the project prompted Israel to take a similar decision.

 

But an American defense company believes it is capable of delivering a laser weapon that could be the answer to Qassam attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip.

 

On the eve of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to Washington last month, a delegation of Northrop Grumman representatives offered to revive Neotilus during talks with defense officials in Tel Aviv.

 

Ynet has learnt that the project could be completed within two years. Northrop Grumman hoped Olmert will raise the issue during talks in the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

 

Last week, the Congress approved the 2007 Defense budget, which did not include funds for laser technologies.

 

A defense official confirmed that although the project has been abandoned, Northrop Grumman has plans to re-launch it.

 

Nautilus was conceived in the mid nineties in a bid to squash Katiusha attacks on northern Israel.

 

The US and Israel poured USD 400 million in the project. The laser canon achieved its purpose but the prototype was impractical. Military experts realized the need for a smaller, more practical device.

 

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