- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2014

It’s like something out of a “Star Wars” movie — but Israel has moved a step closer to manufacturing and deploying new laser shield technology that will shoot down short-range missiles and prevent damage from enemy rocket fire.

It’s called the Iron Beam, and the company that’s producing the system — Rafael Advanced Defense Systems — said its engineers are so close to perfecting it that they are confidently bringing it to the forefront of the upcoming Singapore Airshow for publicity purposes, The Associated Press reported.

“It’s exactly like what you see in ‘Star Wars,’ ” said Amit Zimmer, a spokesman for the company, in the AP report. “You see the lasers go up so quickly, like a flash, and the target is finished.”

Israel’s Iron Beam is designed to take down close-range rockets, drones and mortars that don’t remain airborne long enough to engage the nation’s much-touted — and partially U.S. funded — Iron Dome missile defense system. The Iron Dome’s successes are many: It has shot down hundred of rockets that have been launched from Hamas militants working out of the Gaza Strip.

But now the Iron Beam promises to add a dramatic element to Israel’s defense system.

“Essentially, its military and tactical utility will be particularly useful in complementing the already proven Iron Dome system in tackling very short range threats such as rockets and mortar fire and in close quarter engagements,” said Avnish Patel, a military science expert who works at the Royal United Services Institute, in the AP story.

Mr. Zimmer said 15 engineers worked for about five years to develop the technology, which he claimed was “very accurate” and designed especially to “help avoid collateral damage,” AP reported.

Israeli scientists continue to work to develop its next advancement to its Arrow system — the defense technology that’s aimed at intercepting missiles in space.