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Lasers: Israel’s Rocket Defense?

by david_axe on July 14, 2006

It was, perhaps, the most successful laser gun in the history of energy weapons. Now, it could just prove to be the key to Israel’s defense. Maybe.
ACF9C35.jpgIn the early part of this decade, the Israeli and American militaries worked with Northrop Grumman to build the Tactical High Energy Laser, or THEL. During tests at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the chemical-powered energy weapon blasted out of the sky 28 Katyusha rockets — just like the ones now assaulting Israel. Another 18 artillery shells and mortars were successfully zapped, as well. No other laser has ever come close to building up that kind of track record. (Here’s a video of some of the shoot-downs.)
“All my career, I’ve been interested in fielding lasers,” Jeff Sollee, a veteran Northrop laser scientist, told Defense Tech earlier this year. “THEL was as close as they come.“
But generating the THEL’s megawatts of laser power required hundreds of gallons of toxic chemicals ethylene, nitrogen trifluoride. The weapons grew bulky; one proposed small-scale version was supposed to be kept in a mere eight cargo containers, each 40 feet long. A mobile THEL, on just a couple of trucks, proved to be too complex, and too expensive to contemplate. Worse, after a few shots, the lasers would have to be resupplied with a fresh batch of reactants. The logistics of hauling those toxins either through the air or across a battlefield made generals shiver. Israel eventually dropped out of the program. Then America did, too, turning its focus instead to solid-state, electric lasers.
Now, Northrop is pushing an upgraded THEL, under the name SkyGuard. The system is being pushed for airport defense, to keep jetliners safe from shoulder-fired missiles (kind of like this microwave-based missile-zapper from Raytheon I reported on last year).
But “Northrop executives have pitched [the] laser system in meetings with Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Amir Peretz,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Based on Israel’s expression of interest in the laser technology, he said, Northrop has begun the process of applying for an export license.“
SkyGuard is about a quarter the size of the original THEL, although not much smaller than the eight-container proposal. Northrop claims that the system’s exhaust is mostly helium and steam, and requires a “keep out zone” of only 30 meters, Aerospace Daily notes. The price: maybe $200 million, plus $1,000 per shot.
Raytheon is also pitching Israel on air defense, too — but not the microwave system. A few years back, the company began modifying its Phalanx 4,500 round-per-minute gun, originally designed for ship defense, to knock down mortars.
The WSJ says that “six batteries currently are deployed in Iraq.” And from the reports I’ve heard, the Phalanxes are performing rather well, with several confirmed kills. Presumably, the systems could be shipped to Israel in fairly short order. The laser-based Skyguard is still very much on the drawing board, however. So Israel would still have to wait quite a while for its speed-of-light defense.
(Big ups: BB)
UPDATE 7/18/06 11:13 AM: According to a company spokesperson, Northrop thinks it can squeeze Skyguard “into the equivalent of three standard, 20-foot ISO containers” — much less than the eight contemplated before.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Shinsen July 14, 2006 at 11:57 am

Wouldn’t using a Phalanx system in urban areas have the associated problem of the missed 20mm rounds dropping back down possibly into other urban areas?

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Rip July 14, 2006 at 2:25 pm

Shinsen
- People should not look-up!
Rip

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xplosiv July 14, 2006 at 2:52 pm

Shinsen
Presumably the urban area they’d be sold to fall on would be “on the other side”, so the operator would see it as acceptable, or even desirable retribution. You’re right to point out that in a modern context this is questionable, at least. But I suspect its 8th century siege mentality your up against.

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Shinsen July 14, 2006 at 5:06 pm

Good point about where they might end up. I wonder what happens to Patriot missiles that miss.
The THEL’s videos were pretty cool to see. There is one video where it shoots down three mortars.
However I’m glad to see that the phalanxes are being put to use at bases in Iraq though. Not too much risk when all you got around you is desert.

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Shinsen July 14, 2006 at 5:10 pm

Duh. I should have read deeper into th text.
“So instead of using the AP ammunition, the C-RAM uses the HEIT-SD (High-Explosive Incendiary Tracer, Self-Destruct) ammunition originally developed for the M163 Vulcan air-defense system. These rounds explode in mid-air, raining shrapnel at the incoming rounds in order to destroy or deflect them.”
So no worries in urban environments.

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ahmedinajad July 15, 2006 at 4:16 pm

SALAAM , SHALOM, PEACE
Dear Mr. President Bush & your Excellency the Pope Benedict
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to islam/chritianity/judaism. IF PROPHET ABRAHAM WAS TESTED TO SACRIFICE ISMAEL AND NOT ISSAAC THEN BOTH JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY ARE DESTROYED AND VICE-VERSA FOR ISLAM.
Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.
GENESIS 16:16
And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
GENESIS 21:5
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!
BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.
100 years old

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a July 15, 2006 at 4:16 pm

SALAAM , SHALOM, PEACE
Dear Mr. President Bush & your Excellency the Pope Benedict
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to islam/chritianity/judaism. IF PROPHET ABRAHAM WAS TESTED TO SACRIFICE ISMAEL AND NOT ISSAAC THEN BOTH JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY ARE DESTROYED AND VICE-VERSA FOR ISLAM.
Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.
GENESIS 16:16
And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
GENESIS 21:5
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!
BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.
100 years old

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Jason July 17, 2006 at 7:07 am

ahmedinajad,
While your theological discussion is very interesting it still doesn’t explain why Hizballah is launching rockets into Israel from land that was given back to them as part of a peace agreement. Parallels the sitution with Nazi Germany and the policy of appeasement that lead to WWII. The only way they were stopped was for their will and ability to fight to be destroyed. As should happen here. Would like to see the Phalanx in action…

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sauron July 17, 2006 at 2:20 pm

As is was said during Viet Nam: “Kill’em all… Let God sort’em out…”

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John July 18, 2006 at 3:08 pm

Repent you miserable sinner!
Ok now that that’s out the way, a question for you: I’m sure this has been taken into consideration already, but if a modified Phalanx is used to defend a city what about the rounds which miss and come raining down? Thanks.

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Billy July 20, 2006 at 11:01 am

Please read John 1, In the beginning was the word{plan] and the word [plan} was with God, and the Word [plan] was God. If you understand this , maybe everything else will be clarified. i d w , ,

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Petr July 20, 2006 at 12:17 pm

Jihadbabes.com supports any attempt to date. Perhaps some cross-cultural dating is good for the soul. Visit Jihadbabes.com to find out more.

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Wayne July 20, 2006 at 1:58 pm

Response to SALAAM, SHALOM, PEACE that was posted July 15, 06
It would seem that our Muslim friend is the one who has trouble with elementary math, plus lack of plain english reading skills, when it comes to reading the Bible.
He correctly asserts that “If the prophet Abraham was tested to sacrifice Ismael(Ishmael) and not Issaac then both Judaism and Christianity are destroyed and vice-versa for Islam. I couldn’t agree with him more on this point. (Psalms 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?)
He comments two grave errors in his ascertion that Ishmael was 17 years old in Gen. 21:14-21:
1. He adds 3 years to the age of Ishmael for weaning, why does weaning make one 3 years older?
The Bible clearly states that the age difference between Abramhams sons was 14 years.
2. He adds to the word of God by calling Ishmael and “infant”, and claiming that Hagar put Ishmael on her shoulder, that Ishmael was crying like a baby.
Genesis 21:14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
In the above verse, we see that Abraham put the bread and the bottle of water on her shoulder, and also gave her the child. It seems to me that there would not been enough room left on Hagar’s shoulders for even and “infant”.
Genesis 21:16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
Genesis 21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
The scripture does not call Ishmael and infant, but a child and a lad. While it is true that a child can be an infant, I don’t think you can get infant from lad. The only crying that seems to be going on is from Hagar’s weeping, it does not say “the child lifted up his voice and wept” as our muslim friend claims. The scripture only records “the voice of the lad”.
See Deu. 4:2, Rev. 22:18-19 about adding to God’s word.
Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
If the above argument for Ishmael to be the heir to the covenant, instead of Isaac, is because Ishmael was to old to fit the description given in Gen. 21:14-21, then I submit that the only way to arrive at that conclusion, is to ignor the plain truth of the Bible.
I would like to also point out that our muslim friend neglected to tell us something very important about Ishmael that certainly “HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM/ISLAM”
scince the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael. Genesis 16:11 is a prophetic verse pertaining to Ishmael and his descendants:
Genesis 16:11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
Genesis 16:12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
Just think about that for a moment. Just because Abram and Sarai decided that God was going to need there help in getting the heir that God had promised him! Is mankind not still paying for that?
But, let’s get back to Isaac vs Ishmael, what’s done is done. The apostle Paul will help us clear up the issue on who is the real heir to God’s covenant with Abraham:
Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Galatians 4:20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
Galatians 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Galatians 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Galatians 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Galatians 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Galatians 4:27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
Galatians 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
Galatians 4:31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
As for the Muslim position on who Jesus is, they seem to want to cherry pick some verses out of our bible to their liking.
They are happy to allow that He was a prophet, but not the Son of God as he claimed to be:
John 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
John 4:26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
Allow me to include some other
relevant verses about who Jesus is:
Acts 3:22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
Acts 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Acts 3:24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
Acts 3:25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
Acts 3:26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

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Jonathan Repka July 20, 2006 at 11:39 pm

This goes to Noah, You used John chap.10, “Jesus said” Philip I have been with you this long and you still don’t know me?, (I’m paraphrasing) if you have seen me, you have seen the Father, the Father is in me, and I am in the Father, Noah, get this, the Father is in him, not with him, there is a difference you know!! Read John chapter 10 again, it does not say with him, “Jesus said the Father is in him, Jesus is the Father, the eternal Father, you need to quit saying he’s with the Father, or the father is with him, no!, “Jesus is the everlasting Father” according to Isaiah, Jesus is God!!!, he was the invisible God of the Old Testament, becoming visible in the New Testament, drop me a line Noah.

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jeremy August 13, 2006 at 4:14 am

i have enjoyed the religous comments on both sides, although i agree that jesus and the father are one. i am curious though, as to why there is this type of discussion on a “defensetech” web site…that is very humorous i think.
i will pray for the salvation of the guy who thinks that jesus is not the same as the father, my friend, if you do not have your faith in jesus to save you, then it appears that you might be in some trouble, i hope you will come to find true peace through jesus christ.
jeremy

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joe August 14, 2006 at 12:01 pm

Opium for the masses.

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Xs Andree February 2, 2009 at 6:07 pm

There is no law against mercy.

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Lula March 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Sorry. You know what’s interesting about Washington? It’s the kind of place where second-guessing has become second nature.
I am from Fiji and learning to speak English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Get cheep flight and quality travel.”
Thanks for the help :p, Lula.

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