In briefing reporters last week, US Army acquisition chief Douglas Bush described Rafael’s Iron Beam high-energy laser weapon systems as “intriguing,” going on to suggest that, if successful, the Israeli system “certainly could be something the Army could think about leveraging”.
The White House budget package of some USD106 billion in supplemental funding (somewhat mired in controversy right now) includes a USD1.2 billion investment in the Iron Beam programme. The Army is already investing in directed energy technology in the Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC), aimed at enhancing defensive capabilities against missiles, rockets, artillery and mortars (RAM) and drones. Lockheed Martin and Dynetics have already delivered initial prototypes, but the programme has experienced some delays. Consideration of an alternative (or supplemental) solution is therefore a sensible precaution, say observers close to the programme. Bush also pointed out that the technology approaches differ between the two programmes, making the option of adopting multiple paths at a ‘buy-in’ rate rather than a fully-fledged investment programme quite attractive.
For more information: www.rafael.co.il
(Image: Iron Beam was shown at the AUSA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, last month for the first time. Credit: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)