Israel plans to deploy a new missile shield known as "Iron Beam" next year which would use a laser to blow up short-range rockets and mortar bombs, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing an Israeli defense industry official.
The system is designed to deal with threats that fly on too small a trajectory to be engaged efficiently by Iron Dome, the system credited with a very high success rate against rockets fired by Gaza terrorists.
Both shields are manufactured by state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. While Iron Dome launches radar-guided interceptor rockets, Iron Beam's laser will super-heat the warheads of shells with ranges of up to 7 km (4.5 miles), reported Reuters.
Rafael said Iron Dome would be formally unveiled at next month's Singapore Air Show. The IDF declined to discuss deployment plans.
Iron Dome is complemented by Arrow 2, an Israeli interceptor designed to shoot down ballistic missiles at atmospheric heights.
Israel plans to integrate them with the more powerful rocket interceptors Arrow 3 and David's Sling, both of which are still in their testing phases. David's Sling is designed to intercept missiles fired from a distance of 50 to 250 kilometers (30 to 155 miles).
Earlier this month, Israel’s Defense Ministry completed another successful test of the Arrow 3 system. The interceptor was launched and performed well during all phases of flight, officials stated.
It was the second flight test conducted for the Arrow 3; the first, also successful, was conducted in February 2013. The project is overseen by the Ministry of Defense's Home Administration and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
The United States has extensively underwritten the projects, seeing them as a means of reassuring its Middle East ally as instability rocks the region.
The industry official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters Iron Beam would form the "fifth layer" of integrated missile defense.