Israel will have partial laser defenses by this time next year, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems chairman Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio on Sunday.
"One year from now – Israel will be the first country to have partial laser protection. In two years there may be complete protection – against missiles, shells, rockets, or anything else. This will protect us both in the South and in the North," said Steinitz.
Israel's push for laser air defenses
This past February, senior Defense Ministry official Brig.-Gen. (res.) Danny Gold said Israel’s air-defense lasers, when fully deployed, will be able to shoot down the drones Iran has been sending Russia to use against Ukraine.Speaking at the Artificial Intelligence conference at Tel Aviv University at the time, the MAFAT [Directorate of Defense Research & Development] director said his ministry was working on developing “the next generation of using lasers.”
He talked about multiple successful tests destroying rockets “with a very sophisticated laser-weapons system.... We have done the same for mortars, rockets and UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], like the Iranian UAVs they are sending to Ukraine. The same concept of UAV, we can shoot them down.”
In February 2022, then-prime minister Naftali Bennett proclaimed that Israel’s ability to use lasers had progressed significantly and could be operational much sooner than people had expected.
This past January, outgoing IDF chief of staff Aviv Kohavi told The Jerusalem Post, “The laser-defense system is truly great news. It will be both land- and air-based. I do want to be cautious regarding timeframes. In another two years, we expect to deploy systems along the Gaza Strip border to test this tool’s effectiveness.
“It has worked very well in field tests. If this experiment works – and we continue to integrate and enhance the laser-defense system over two years – we will move as fast as possible to deploy it across the entire North. I cannot commit to a specific number of years. I don’t want to be optimistic and I also don’t want to be pessimistic.”
Kohavi added, “I know that there has been great progress over the last three years, and we invested a lot of money in this. We defined the laser-defense system as having multiple benefits that we would need to invest a lot in. I am happy that it has progressed so much.”