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14 Jul, 2022 18:21

US, Israel plan joint laser development

President Biden has revealed plans for Washington to work with Israel in building laser weapon systems
US, Israel plan joint laser development

American and Israeli defense contractors will work jointly on building laser weapons that can shoot down enemy missiles, President Joe Biden announced during a visit to Jerusalem.

“As we move forward together – partners in both security and innovation – the United States and Israel defense sectors will cooperate in new, high-energy laser weapon systems that can defend Israeli lives as well as the lives of American service members,” Biden said on Thursday in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid at his side.

The president made his comments after meeting with Lapid and pledging that Washington would never “allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon” and was ready to use “all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.” Declaring that the “scourge of antisemitism still marches around the world,” he added, “You have an ironclad commitment from the United States of America to Israel’s security, an ironclad commitment.”

Biden noted that the US provided record military aid to Israel last year – adding an extra $1 billion to its base outlays, which average $3.8 billion annually – to help the country replenish the cache of missile interceptors for its so-called Iron Dome defense system. “You have new tools to keep Israel strong and secure,” he said, adding, “We’ll make sure that Israel can defend itself, by itself.”

After arriving in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Biden toured a display of Israel’s air defense technology, including the Iron Dome and the Arrow and David’s Sling surface-to-air missile systems. He said he also saw a presentation on the Iron Beam, a laser-based system that’s under development.

Israeli defense officials claimed in April that the Iron Beam had passed a series of “groundbreaking” tests, proving its ability to intercept rockets, drones, anti-tank missiles and shrapnel. It’s scheduled to go into service sometime this year, beating an earlier target of 2024.

Israel has sought US investment to help fund further development of the Iron Beam. Haifa-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which is state-owned, said last year that it would collaborate with US defense contractor Lockheed Martin on a ground-based laser weapon for Israel. The companies signed a tentative agreement to explore opportunities to market the system in the US.