Rafael Advanced Defence Systems signed an agreement with a leading military technology company Lockheed Martin to jointly develop and manufacture the Iron Beam – a high-energy laser weapon system (HELWS).
Iron Beam is a 100kW-class HELWS, the first operational ground-based air defence system against threats such as mortars, rockets, and UAVs. The system will be integrated into Israel’s multi-layered air-defence system in order to counter growing threats and protect civilian centres, vital infrastructure, and strategic sites.
The Iron Beam is not meant to replace the Iron Dome and other air defence systems which has been faithfully protecting Israel’s southern towns from Hamas’ rocket attacks, but to complement them, intercepting smaller projectiles.
The new cooperation will be based on pre-existing assets developed independently by Rafael and the Defence Ministry’s Directorate of Defence Research and Development (DDR&D) within the framework of the Iron Beam project, and it will be geared toward the development of modified versions of the system for use in the US and other markets.
Ran Gozali, executive vice president at Rafael and head of the company’s Land and Naval Systems Directorate, said: “The system is designed to provide defence against emerging threats in today’s complex battlefield, bolstering the strength of the Israeli home front, and is a catalyst for forging bilateral collaborations.”
Even though Rafael and DDR&D have been jointly working on the Iron Beam in Israel for several years, the initial laser research and development commenced over thirty years ago. Last year, the system was finally recognised as fully operational following the series of rigorous tests.
According to developers, as long as there is a constant source of energy for the laser, it will never run out of ammunition. Essentially, Iron Beam is a game-changer in protecting Israel from rocket and other projectiles attacks.
Lockheed Martin COO Frank St. John said, ““Working with Rafael, our joint team will help bring this new, life-saving capability to our customers. This unique capability will enhance Israel’s vital air- and missile-defense system with state-of-the-art laser technology, and we are honored by the opportunity to expand Lockheed Martin’s role as a security teammate for the State of Israel.”
Joshua Shani, the CEO of Lockheed Martin Israel said, “Lockheed Martin is entering a new area of operations in Israel. As a leader of technology, our aerial platforms, such as the F-35, F-16, C-130 and more, have been operational in Israel for many years. Now, we step into the high-energy laser era and look forward to fielding operational, reliable and highly effective systems with teammates such as Rafael.”