Expected to enter service with the Israel Defense Forces in 2015, the system is designed to destroy short-range rockets, artillery, and mortars too small for the Iron Dome system to efficiently intercept.
In addition, the system could also intercept unmanned aerial vehicles.
Iron Beam will use a laser beam to destroy targets up to 4 miles.
Iron Beam will constitute the fifth element of Israel’s integrated air defense system, in addition to Arrow 2, Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome.
Iron Beam uses a laser to destroy an airborne target within 5 seconds of firing.
The benefit of using a directed energy weapon over conventional missile interceptors are lower costs per shot, an unlimited magazine, lower operational costs.
As of February 2014 the system has successfully targeted mortar and artillery shells in over 100 tests and engaged and destroyed small UAVs.
Current power levels at tens of kilowatts are planned to be increased to hundreds of kW.
Rafael is also pursuing increasing the range of the system.