Lockheed Martin and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Ltd., of Israel, have signed a teaming agreement that includes jointly developing, testing, and manufacturing a High Energy Laser Weapon Systems (HELWS) in the U.S and Israel.
The future joint-development will be based on the assets that have been developed independently by RAFAEL and the Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) within the framework of the IRON BEAM project. The cooperation will be geared towards developing a variant of the system for the American market as well as others.
After years of joint development by the Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) and RAFAEL, the IRON BEAM project was initiated by the DDR&D.
In the last year, a series of tests on the system was carried out that proved the operational capability of the system. IRON BEAM is a 100kW-class HELWS, expected to be the first-ever operational system for ground-based air defense against threats such as rockets, mortars, and UAV’s, delivering engagement at the speed of light.
“This strategic teaming agreement serves as a force multiplier for RAFAEL and the Israeli market. We are working to ensure our customers receive the most advanced, effective, and best in class systems. This agreement will expand and diversify the capabilities we can offer to a variety of customers,” said RAFAEL CEO and President Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Yoav Har-Even. “Over the last three decades, alongside the DDR&D and the Israeli Ministry of Defense, RAFAEL has invested in laser research and development, resulting in IRON BEAM and we expect to become the first operational laser defense system of its kind. This serves as a clear example of Israeli-made capabilities leading to strategic cooperation which will greatly benefit both sides.”
IRON BEAM is set to be integrated into Israel’s multi-layered air defence array. The cost-effective and operationally efficient solution will be able to counter emerging threats, while also defending critical infrastructure, strategic sites, manoeuvring forces, and population centres.
“Lockheed Martin’s mission is to deliver the best security solutions that help our customers stay ahead of their adversaries. Working with Rafael, our joint team will help bring this new, life-saving capability to our customers,” said Lockheed Martin Chief Operating Officer, Frank St. John. “This unique capability will enhance Israel’s vital air and missile defence system with state-of-the-art laser technology, and we are honoured by the opportunity to expand Lockheed Martin’s role as a security teammate for the State of Israel.”
“We see the capability of IRON BEAM which was developed alongside the DDR&D as a technological breakthrough, with its proven effectiveness against some of the most sophisticated threats including rockets, mortars, drones and UAVs, including in swarms. The system is designed to provide defense against emerging threats in today’s complex battlefield, bolstering the strength of the Israeli Homefront, and is a catalyst for forging bilateral collaborations,” said Head of the Land and Naval Systems Directorate at Rafael, Executive Vice President Dr Ran Gozali.
“Lockheed Martin is entering a new area of operations in Israel. As a leader of technology, our aerial platforms, such as F-35, F-16, C-130 and more, have been operational in Israel for many years and including CH-53K, these will continue to be into the future. Now, we step into the high-energy laser era and look forward to fielding operational, reliable, and highly effective systems with teammates such as Rafael,” said Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin Israel, Joshua (Shiki) Shani.
A press release stated that the companies will develop and field this High Energy Laser Weapon system and explore additional opportunities to provide this critical capability to the United States and potentially elsewhere.