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Lockheed Martin, Rafael to Develop Laser Weapon System for Israel

Lockheed Martin and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have announced an agreement to explore opportunities and technology implementations for developing a ground-based laser weapon system for Israel.

The agreement includes “opportunities to market this system in the US,” a Lockheed Martin statement revealed as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

“This agreement captures the commitment of Lockheed Martin and Rafael to work together with their respective governments to support this important collaborative opportunity,” the statement read. 

Tel Aviv’s Laser-Based Programs

The system will be developed in addition to the three laser-based programs announced last year by Israel’s ministry of defense. According to the plan, the Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure and Elbit Systems were tasked to develop a “ground-based laser system,” a “maneuverable platform-mounted laser” system, and an aerial platform-mounted laser system.

The ground-based system will complement Israel’s “Iron Dome” while the platform-mounted configuration will be deployed to provide protection for ground soldiers during operations, the Jerusalem Post revealed. 

Aircraft-Mounted Laser System

Meanwhile, the ministry conducted a series of tests last month involving a civilian light aircraft-mounted laser system to shoot down drones.

Describing the system’s performance during the trials, Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of military research and development at the ministry of defense, said: “This is a groundbreaking technological achievement and is a critical step for further development.” He added that the system performs “regardless of weather conditions.”

Rotem further revealed to the Jerusalem-based outlet that the system achieved a 100 percent success rate in downing drones within a range of one kilometer (0.62 miles).

Future Plans

In the next round of trials, the system will be mounted on a larger aircraft and on other aerial platforms.

The brigadier said that, in a few years, the power of the system will be increased to 100 kilowatts, which will increase its effective range to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).

Tel Aviv is expecting a system to intercept rocket attacks from Gaza by 2024.

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