Missile Defense Watch: United States and Israel Collaborating on Missile Defense
Northrop Grumman Corp. has developed Skyguard, a high-power laser system, to defend against air-based threats such as short-range ballistic missiles and rockets, artillery and mortars.
Reuters: “Star Wars” agency helps Israel on rocket threat
The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has begun working with Israel to help find ways to counter enemy rockets, a much shorter-range threat than the “Star Wars” mission to block ballistic missiles for which is it known, the head of the agency said on Tuesday.
“We have been working with the Israelis … as they go through with development of their own indigenous capabilities for that threat,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering told reporters after a speech at a missile-defense conference here.
“That is not mature. That is still in development,” he said of the effort to defeat something he likened to mortar or artillery fire.
Missile Threat from the Claremont Institute has the history of the Israeli-American collaboration on the Tactical High Energy Laser System – THEL.
The Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) is a joint project of the United States and Israel designed to destroy short-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, ground- and air-launched rockets, unmanned aerial vehicles, mortar shells, and artillery projectiles. It consists of an advanced radar that detects and tracks incoming rockets, and a high-energy laser beam that destroys them.
Since the early 1980s, Israel has faced a constant threat from Hezbollah guerillas along its northern border. During eighteen years of fighting, the guerrillas wreaked havoc by firing numerous small, unguided Katyusha rockets at Israeli towns. The rockets were fast and low-flying and caused considerable damage. Hezbollahâ€™s attacks were so numerous that Israel could not use interceptor missiles. In addition, since the Katyushas flew on ballistic trajectories and landed on Israeli towns unless completely destroyed, Israel could not deploy advanced machine guns such as those used by U.S. Navy ships against low-flying cruise missiles.
In 1995, the U.S. and Israel decided to address the growing problem of low-flying missiles by developing a high energy laser. The idea was to build a weapons system that could detect and eliminate threats at the speed of light while maintaining a low per-kill cost. Since Hezbollah was launching thousands of rockets, the defense system had to be capable of handling a large volume of attacks. In February 1996, the prototype U.S. high energy laser, known as Nautilus, destroyed a short-range rocket at a test site in New Mexico. It was the first time that a laser had ever destroyed a ballistic missile.
The Arrow anti-missile system is already deployed in Israel.
Missile Defense will be of increasing importance in protecting from strategic and tactical nuclear and conventional missiles. Deployment of a number of systems in the next few years will make Ronald Reagan’s vision of a missile shield for the United States and battlefield theaters a reality.
President Reagan Addresses the Nation from the oval office on National Security (Strategic Defense Initiative speech) March 23, 1983.
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