‘IRON BEAM’ Missile Defence System
Israel tested its new laser-based ‘Iron Beam’ missile defence system. The system is designed to destroy short-range rockets, artillery, and mortar bombs. The system could also intercept unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It has a range of up to 7 km. Iron Beam constitutes the sixth element of Israel’s integrated missile defense system, in addition to Arrow 2, Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome. Iron Beam uses a fiber laser to generate a laser beam to destroy an airborne target. The main benefits of using a directed energy weapon over conventional missile interceptors are lower costs per shot, an unlimited number of firings, lower operational costs, and less manpower. There is also no interceptor debris to fall on the area protected.
What is Directed-Energy Weapon?
A directed-energy weapon (DEW) is a ranged weapon that damages its target with highly focused energy without a solid projectile, including lasers, microwaves, particle beams, and sound beams. Potential applications of this technology include weapons that target personnel, missiles, vehicles, and optical devices.
What are the Operational advantages?
Directed-energy weapons can be used discreetly; radiation does not generate sound and is invisible if outside the visible spectrum. Light is, for practical purposes, unaffected by gravity, windage, and Coriolis force, giving it an almost perfectly flat trajectory. This makes aim much more precise and extends the range to line-of-sight, limited only by beam diffraction and spread (which dilute the power and weaken the effect), and absorption or scattering by intervening atmospheric contents.
Lasers travel at light speed and have long range, making them suitable for use in space warfare. Laser weapons potentially eliminate many logistical problems in terms of ammunition supply, as long as there is enough energy to power them. Depending on several operational factors, directed-energy weapons may be cheaper to operate than conventional weapons in certain contexts.