Iron beam, a laser-assisted rocket interception system, deployed near Gaza

Chairman of Rafael Weapons Systems, Yuval Steinitz, revealed the system for intercepting rockets using a laser, was deployed near Gaza - but it has not yet been used in actual operation; Despite its promise, Steinitz warns: 'it is far from being foolproof'

Iron Beam, a directed-energy weapon air defense system, was introduced by Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems at the Singapore Airshow on February 11, 2014 . During the recent conflict, it was deployed for the first time since its development began, as confirmed by Yuval Steinitz, Chairman of Rafael and former minister, at an event in Be'er Sheva.
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However, Steinitz clarified that although the system was deployed, it was not utilized to intercept missiles. It is expected that the Iron Beam will become fully operational within the next two years.
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מערכת מגן אור בתצוגה לקראת ביקורו של ביידן
מערכת מגן אור בתצוגה לקראת ביקורו של ביידן
Iron Beam exhibition
(Photo: Defense Ministry)
"We deployed Iron Beam adjacent to Gaza for the first time in history," Steinitz stated. However, he clarified that it was not used for interception during this deployment. Nonetheless, the deployment marked a significant advancement in the system's development, integration, and operational capabilities.
Despite the progress in defensive coverage, Steinitz expressed concerns about the potential challenges of dealing with a large-scale attack from Lebanon in a war against Hezbollah. He cautioned against harboring unrealistic expectations, saying, "I don't like to create false hopes; no defense system is flawless.
"A conflict in the north is a complex situation. While Iron Dome and David's Sling provide us with solid defense, I won't delve into its effectiveness. Overall, as we witnessed in the Gaza conflict, we possess a strong defense. However, Hezbollah's firepower dwarfs its Hamas equivalent. Even with a strong defense and offensive capabilities, it is far from being foolproof."

Hitting a coin from a Kilometer away

Steinitz also noted that in addition to Iron Dome, Rafael has introduced many new combat capabilities during the war that are currently assisting forces in the Gaza Strip. He stated, "During the war, we developed new versions and implemented operational means that were developed and are now in daily use in Gaza. I cannot provide specific examples, but among other things, there are sensors, intelligence systems, and highly advanced surveillance tools that were developed and are assisting forces on the ground moment by moment. There are also various means against tunnels."
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יובל שטייניץ
יובל שטייניץ
Yuval Steinitz
(Photo: Ilya Malnikov)
Laser-based targeting is an area that is advancing in the field of weapon development. Recently, in the UK, experiments were conducted with the "Dragonfire" system, which benefits from exceptional accuracy and can hit a target at a distance of half a kilometer. In contrast to systems like Iron Dome, which are considered to have particularly high operational costs, the British claim the cost of a "Dragonfire" shot is only $12, and has a precision that is equivalent to hitting a coin from a Kilometer away.
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