Last week, for the first time, the IDF shot down a missile fired from Gaza with a “directed-energy engagement system”—in layman’s terms, a laser. This experimental new system, known as the Iron Beam, has been developed to supplement, and perhaps one day to supplant, the Iron Dome. Elliott Abrams explains its significance:
Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system is well known, and it works beautifully: 90-percent effective. But it is expensive: each Iron Dome battery can cost $100 million, and each interceptor costs between $40,000 and $50,000. As Hamas fires its thousands of rockets and missiles at Israel—it’s fired an estimated 10,000 since October 7—the costs of defense mount and the supply of interceptors can run out.
Iron Dome batteries typically have about 60 to 80 interceptor missiles at hand. What if Hizballah or Hamas fires 100 missiles at one location? A laser system overcomes these problems. As long as you have electricity, you have laser beams to fire again and again at incoming threats. Swarms of approaching missiles can’t overwhelm the number of interceptors you have on hand, and there’s no need to worry about resupply—the kind of resupply the United States is now providing Israel.
Today, Israel can be forced to spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to shoot down Hamas rockets that cost $600 each. With lasers, the balance of costs all of a sudden will favor the defender, not the aggressor. . . . No doubt Hizballah and Iran are watching and worrying.