Over recent years, the United States and Israel have enjoyed an ever-strengthening military partnership, with the Jewish nation being Pentagon’s one of biggest arms importer, boasting the likes of the F-35, F-16 and F-15 Eagle fighter jets in their ranks.
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While the US armoury has helped cement Israel’s stamp over the entire Middle East, it is reported that amid increasing threats from enemy nations, both countries are looking to bolster their airstrike protection by working on developing laser systems under a joint program.
According to Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) Director Moshe Patel, the Israeli agency is looking to garner resources with that of the US and contribute towards directed energy capabilities, with the two nations having now begun talks regarding the collaboration.
“Directed energy is something that we — I can tell you it’s playing a major role for the future in Israel, [and in] the U.S. also. And we are looking for ways to do some more cooperation with the U.S. on that,” said Patel, while speaking to Defence News last week during an interview.
“We need to overcome some classification issues, some policy issues, and hopefully we can enlarge those capabilities together as well,” added Patel.
Directed Energy Weapons or DEWS are ranged weapons which use highly focused energy, including laser, microwaves and particle beams to damage targets.
The weapons are considered a crucial factor in future contactless warfare with the potential applications of the laser technology leading to possess weapons which could target enemy fighter jets, personnel, vehicles, missiles and optical devices.
While work is underway by countries across the world in developing reliable DEWS, according to David Stoudt, senior executive advisor and engineering fellow for directed energy at Booz Allen Hamilton, some weapons have already been developed.
“The directed energy community has already successfully fielded both High Power Microwave (HPM) and High Energy Laser (HEL) weapon systems,” said Stoudt.
Israel has been looking to develop lasers in a bid to destroy the increasing presence of drones in modern warfare and having worked on the development of missile defence programs in the past with the US, the country feels it might be able to achieve the goal.
According to Tom Karako, a missile defence expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the directed energy program “has to be part of the overall solution to countering the increasing number and types of air and missile threats.”
“Both the U.S. and our allies will benefit from incorporating directed energy into composite air defence units, as well as for strike capability,” said Karako. There will need to be a mix of kinetic and non-kinetic, and different types of DE. The diversity and intensity of the threat demand it.” he added.
According to Patel, IMDO has a 10-year agreement in place for collaboration with the American Missile Defense (AMD) Agency, which is focused on three programs.
One of the programs that the two countries worked together on has been the Iron Dome Missile Defence System program, under which US’ Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries joined hands.
The Iron Dome is a mobile, all-weather air defence system designed to intercept and neutralise short-range rockets and artillery shells, with the missiles being very successful in Israel.
Recently, IMDO delivered the first of the two Iron Dome Defense System batteries to the U.S. Army at the Iron Dome production line of defence contractor Rafael Advanced Systems, with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz stating,
“The Iron Dome system, as a part of [Israel’s] multi-layered missile defence system, reflects the strength of the Israeli defence establishment. As a result of the effectiveness of this system, many deaths were prevented on the homefront of southern Israel, and it has a significant impact on the battlefield.
I am proud that this advanced system will also protect U.S. Army troops. This is an extraordinary achievement for both the Ministry of Defense and for Israel’s excellent defence industries.”