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Successful High-Power Laser Interception Test Offers Strategic Upgrade in Israel’s Air Defense

High-Power Laser Weapon System (HPL-WS) installed in an aircraft. Photo Credit: Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office
High-Power Laser Weapon System (HPL-WS) installed in an aircraft. Photo Credit: Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office

The successful testing of an airborne, High-Power Laser Weapon System (HPL-WS) promises to offer Israel a new strategic level of protection.

During a series of tests, the system installed in an aircraft successfully intercepted and destroyed all of the UAVs launched during the test, the Israel’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) said in a statement. 

“Israel is among the first countries in the world to achieve and demonstrate such capabilities employing an airborne, High-Power Laser system,” the MOD said.

“The ability to intercept and destroy airborne threats in the air is groundbreaking and offers a strategic change in the air defense capabilities of the State of Israel,” it added.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Benny Gantz said the developers “have brought us closer to yet another important milestone in the development of the multi-tier defense array of the State of Israel and 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 – securing the State of Israel while saving the costs of interception,” Gantz said.

“I am confident that Israel’s defense industry will succeed in this important development program, and I will personally work together with the entire defense establishment to ensure its success,” he added.

The test series is the first phase in a multi-year program led by the Directorate of Defense R&D in the Ministry of Defense (DDR&D) and Elbit Systems. The “game-changing series” was conducted in close cooperation with the Israel Air Force (IAF).

The airborne interception method has advantages including: “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,” the MOD said.

“This is a groundbreaking technological achievement and it is critical for further development of our airborne High-Power Laser System,” said Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of Research and Development in DDR&D

It is intended to complement Israel’s multi-tier missile defense system that includes the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile interceptor systems and will “increase the effectiveness of air defense against existing and future threats in the region,” the MOD said.

Israel’s Iron Dome is regularly called into action defending the country against terrorist rockets from the Gaza Strip as it did during the recent 11-day war in May between Israel and Hamas.

“The trials were successful thanks to a range of unique technological assets,” said Oren Saba, General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR.

“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,” Saba said.

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