Israel has plans to deploy a missile-defense laser called Iron Beam, a high-powered weapon that can heat up incoming short-range missiles until they explode, Israeli media reported over the weekend. Though seldom actually used, laser weapons technology like this has actually been around for years, and is increasingly common throughout the world. Laser missile-defense systems were first developed in the United States, and the American government subsidized the Israeli Iron Beam program, Reuters reported.
If you’re unfamiliar with laser technology, it’s pretty much what you’d imagine. The basic principle is that a beam of concentrated electromagnetic waves can burn things. News reports about Iron Beam have not detailed the technology, and the state-run defense contractor, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, that produced Iron Beam, won’t offer particulars. But it may be similar to the laser-based rocket defense system the U.S. first demonstrated in February 2010.
That laser weapon, called Airborne Laser Testbed, or ALTB, used a near-infrared laser to super-heat a warhead until it exploded, according to Popular Mechanics. The hope for the ALTB program was to deploy it with the Air Force to police the skies around rogue nuclear states. But the Department of Defense said it was too expensive and sidetracked the program in 2009. It appears the technology has been resurrected for active duty in Isreal, where the official told Reuters that Iron Beam would go into service next year.
Full article: Israel’s Laser Beam Defense System Can Blow Up Incoming Rockets In Mid Air (International Science Times)