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Thursday, January 19, 2006

US kills Nautilus laser gun

Globes, Israel's business daily, reports that the US has killed the development of a laser gun that is used to intercept Kassam rockets before they hit their targets.

Sources inform ''Globes'' that the Pentagon has killed the joint US-Israeli Natulus mobile tactical high energy laser (MTHEL), designed to intercept aerial targets such as rockets, missiles, artillery shells and other aerial threats at ranges of 5-6 kilometers.

Over the past three years, Israel’s defense establishment developed a system to use lasers to intercept kassam rockets. The defense establishment has been informed of the US decision. A senior Ministry of Defense official said, “I feel we’ve missed an immense opportunity.”

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, who served as IDF chief R&D officer when the decision to develop the Nautilus was taken said, “This is a fateful decision. We’ll have to live with kassam rockets for decades. Technologically, the laser system was the only solution in the foreseeable future that could intercept them.”

The Nautilus laser gun program was begun ten years ago. It was originally designed to enable the IDF to intercept Katyusha rockets fired by Hizbullah in Lebanon against communities in the Upper Galilee. A Nautilus prototype was initially developed at the laboratories of TRW Automotive (NYSE:TRW), in cooperation with Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI), Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd., and Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT). The technology chalked up impressive successes in tests in New Mexico, intercepting Katyushas in and mortar bombs mid-flight.

The prototype was completed five years ago. $250 million has been invested in the program to date, 80% of which was funded by the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the rest by Israel’s Ministry of Defense. When development was completed it was realized that the system was immobile, awkward and too big. In order to used effectively, its size had to be halved, to give mobility using trucks.


At 7:10 AM, Blogger Batya said...

I don't think the US is much of a friend.


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