Israel has unveiled a ‘laser sword’ defence system that can stop rockets and drones as tensions in the region continue to simmer.
The technological breakthrough, announced by the country’s Ministry of Defence, means lasers can hit targets with a greater degree of accuracy, over longer distances, and through clouds and dust storms.
It is expected to be tested this year and deployed in the coming years, to help support the Iron Dome missile defence system.
The announcement comes after Iran launched a missile strike on US forces in Iraq and Tehran threatened to target Israel if it was attacked by their American allies.
The technological breakthrough was achieved after several smaller beams were combined to form a larger beam.
It will be ‘demonstrated in the field’ during 2020, after being developed by the Armed Forces and Technology Infrastructure Administration the announcement said.
The department’s head of research and development, Brigadier General Yaniv Rotem, heralded the technology as placing Israel among the ‘leading countries’ in the field and said it makes them ready for a new era of ‘energy warfare’.
The futuristic system will not, however, be operational in the near future, reports The Times of Israel.
The system has an advantage over missile developments as each fire will cost a dollar on average, compared to the Iron Dome which costs tens of thousands of dollars each time. However, it also needs to be able to see a target.
Welcoming the achievement, Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said last night: ‘The enemies of Israel better not test our resolve or our abilities.’
It is part of a three-tier laser defence system being developed by Israel, which will include a ground-based system to complement Iron Dome, a manouverable platform-mounted laser system to defend troops, and a laser demo system positioned on air platforms to target threats above cloud cover.
It has been developed after Israel’s police force unveiled a new laser system, called ‘light blade’, to target incendiary balloons and kites moving out of the Gaza area.
The Lebanese Hezbollah are said to have an arsenal containing 130,000 rockets, while Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza are believed to possess tens of thousands of missiles.
Iranian officials had accused the US of a declaration of war earlier this week after President Donald Trump gave the order to assassinate General Qassem Soleimani while he was leaving Baghdad airport on 3 January 2020.
They fired 16 short-range ballistic missiles at two Iraqi airbases housing US troops overnight on Wednesday, which Supreme Leaader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei branded a ‘slap on the face’ for the Americans.
No deaths or injuries were reported following the attacks and President Trump said afterwards that Iran appeared to be ‘standing down’ and that the US did not necessarily have to hit back.