Israeli security forces have unveiled a new laser-beam system designed to take down incendiary aerial devices which have burned countless acres of land over the past two years as well as drones infiltrating into Israeli airspace.
The system, dubbed Light Blade, was developed by engineers in the private sector along with researchers from Ben Gurion University and technological departments belonging to the Israel Police and IDF.
According to a report on Channel 12, Light Blade has been designed to deal with threats as far away as two kilometers, both along the northern borders as well as the Gaza Strip. The portable system which can be installed on a moving vehicle can be operated both during the day and at night.
The system “provides a near conclusive response to everything relating to balloons and kites, and delivers a safe and effective solution to the drone threat,” Border Police chief Kobi Shabtai told Channel 12.
Only one functioning system has been built and according to the report, costs around a million dollars.
The expensive device is aimed at the more simple devices, like kites, balloons and condoms carrying Molotov cocktails or improvised explosive devices, which in the past have posed a major problem for Israel.
Since the beginning of the March of Return protests along the Gaza border fence began in March 2018, the devices have caused over 2,000 separate fires resulting in over 35,000 dunams (approximately 8,500 acres) being burnt. According to the IDF, this has included over 13,000 dunams (approximately 3,200 acres) of nature reserves, and over 11,000 dunams (approximately 2,700 acres) of forestry.
While drones and other incendiary aerial devices are cheap and usually toys that can be bought on the civilian market, they are fast and remain a challenge even for skilled sharpshooters.
Hezbollah and Hamas have sent drones into Israel and are said to have been working on upgrading the group’s UAVs for use in both offensive operations and intelligence gathering. Larger more advanced drones have also infiltrated Israel from the northern border by Hezbollah and Iran, most recently in February of last year when Iran launched a drone on a sabotage mission. It was eliminated by an Apache attack helicopter near Beit Shean.
The appeal of such unmanned aircraft which can also be small enough to evade air-defense systems has pushed many companies to scramble to come up with breakthrough technology to take them out.
Systems like SMASH 2000, developed by SmartShooter, can take down the small aerial devices at ranges of over 200 meters away.
With the system, the user selects and locks onto the target and as soon as the trigger is squeezed, the system calculates the target’s movement and predicts it’s next location advanced image processing and algorithms. SMASH 2000 prevents the bullet being fired until the target is in precisely in its crosshairs.