By Arie Egozi
The Directorate of Defense R&D in the Ministry of Defense (MoD), together with Elbit Systems and the Israeli Air Force (IAF), has successfully intercepted several UAVs using an airborne High-Power Laser Weapon System (HPL-WS). The UAVs were intercepted at various ranges and flight altitudes.
The test series was conducted under the leadership of the Directorate of Defense R&D in the Israel Ministry of Defense. During this series, a High-Power Laser system was installed on a light aircraft and was tested in a number of scenarios. According to participant reports it successfully intercepted and destroyed all UAVs launched throughout the test.
The ability to intercept and destroy airborne threats in the air offers a strategic change in the air defence capabilities of the State of Israel. This game-changing series was conducted in a testing field in the centre of Israel, in close cooperation with the IAF.
In the future the system will be installed on larger aircraft and will be based on a much more powerful laser.
Israel is among the first countries in the world to achieve and demonstrate such capabilities employing an airborne, High-Power Laser system. This test series is the first phase in a multi-year programme led by the Directorate of Defense R&D and Elbit Systems to develop a laser system against a variety of long-range threats.
This method of airborne interception has many advantages, including a 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 airborne, High-Power Laser System will complement Israel’s multi-tier missile defense array, which include the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile interceptor systems. This system will increase the effectiveness of air defense against existing and future threats in the region.
Head of Research and Development in the DDR&D, Brig Gen Yaniv Rotem said:“The Directorate of Defense R&D in the Ministry of Defense, Elbit and the IAF have completed a series of tests employing a powerful, airborne laser system. We successfully intercepted several UAVs in the air, within a range of more than 1km. This is a groundbreaking technological achievement and it is critical for further development of our airborne High-Power Laser System.”
General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR, Oren Sabag said: “…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 defence capabilities.״
A UAS with a high power laser spot second before interception
Elbit Systems High Power Laser Weapon System installed on an aircraft during the tests.