by: Nathan Williams, Director of Marketing and Communications
The modern State of Israel has been in a constant state of combat since the day after declaring its independence in 1948. The need to survive, outsmart and outgun their enemies has pushed the Jewish state to create some of the most innovative weapons systems in the world.
The highly successful Iron Dome is world-renowned for protecting the citizens of Israel from rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. In a matter of seconds, the Iron Dome system can detect a short-range rocket launched into Israeli territory, calculate the trajectory and determine whether the target is in a populated area. If so, the Iron Dome battery launches an interceptor missile to neutralize the enemy rocket midair.
Although the Iron Dome has a success rate of over 90%, the downside is the high cost of the inceptor missiles. A financial analysis in 2020 estimated that each interceptor missile cost between US $50,000–$100,000. During the 2021 conflict with Gaza, the Iron Dome intercepted 1,428 rockets. Besides the cost, the concern was that in a future conflict there would not be a sufficient inventory of interceptor missiles to protect Israeli cities.
Israeli defense technology company, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, has come up with a solution. In April 2022, the Times of Israel reported that the Iron Beam, a laser-air-defense system, had successfully intercepted unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), rockets, mortars and anti-tank missiles. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yaniv Rotem, head of the Defense Ministry’s research and development team, told the Times, “The use of a laser is a ‘game changer’ and the technology is simple to operate and proves to be economically viable.” According to reports, the twin high-energy fiber-optic laser alleviates the need for interceptor missiles, and the cost to use the Iron Beam is negligible at US $3.50 per use. However, the Iron Beam also has its limitations. While the range of the Iron Dome’s ability to intercept rockets is 4–70 kilometers (2.5–43.5 mi.) from the launch site, the Iron Beam’s range is only 7 kilometers (4.3 mi.). While this may not be viable for other nations, the Iron Beam is the perfect defensive weapon in an Israeli context where terrorists are firing rockets right on their doorstep.
The Trophy Active Protection System is the stuff of science fiction. In any intergalactic conflict, the spaceship captain would inevitably say, “shields up,” referring to a force field around the spacecraft which would offer protection from enemy strikes. Designed specifically to protect tanks and armored personnel vehicles from anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), Trophy uses a radar detection system to create a sensor field around the vehicle. In the real world, unlike science fiction, it is not the force field that destroys the incoming projectile. Rather, when an incoming threat is detected, the Trophy system automatically launches a missile to intercept the incoming anti-tank missile before it reaches the vehicle. The Trophy system can also isolate the exact location of the attack’s origin, allowing precision return fire to the enemy target.
Every Israel Defense Force (IDF) Mercava tank model since 2011 has the Trophy system installed as standard spec, with the system now slated for installation on all IDF armored personnel carriers. The Trophy has proven its reliability and functionality and has attracted the attention of foreign military powers. In 2018, the US Army awarded two contracts worth US $200 million to Rafael for the Trophy missile defense system for their Abrams class of main battle tanks (MBTs). Following its excellent performance in the field, in 2021, the US Army took delivery of enough Trophy systems to protect every tank in four US Army brigades—estimated to be over 400 systems. The German Federal Ministry of Defense also signed an agreement with Rafael in 2021 to supply Trophy systems for its fleet of Leopard 2 tanks, while the British Army has also selected Trophy as the active protection system for their Challenger 3 tanks.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) are a marvel of modern technology that have a wide range of uses. As drone technology advances, these gadgets are now capable of carrying advanced photographic equipment and significant payloads of dangerous materials. Even more concerning is the fact that these devices are readily available to the civilian market and pose a significant security concern. From disrupting sporting events, to flying into restricted areas like airports and military bases, hostile drones are one of the fastest growing security threats and are difficult to shoot down.
Not anymore, thanks to Rafael’s Drone Dome. This Counter Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS) detects, intercepts and neutralizes drones. According to Rafael, “When Drone Dome identifies a threat; it allocates the target to the laser, locks onto the target, tracks it, and carries out either a soft or hard-kill with its unique, integrated laser technology.” The British Ministry of Defense employed the Drone Dome during the 2021 G7 summit in Cornwall, England to protect world leaders from aerial threats. Just last month the EurAsian Times reported that Greece is using the Drone Dome to “blind and burn” Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles that violate their airspace. The system provides all weather, 360-degree rapid defense against hostile drones.
For a nation that lives under the persistent threat of enemies situated within a short firing range of their largest metropolises, developing advanced defensive weapons systems is crucial. Israel’s advancement in defensive weapons systems is a real game changer for their status as a military power in the region, and a definite advantage for their global military allies.
Photo Credit: Click on photo to see photo credit
Photo License: IDF Tank
Photo Credit: 1948 War
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