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imperialism & war | technology

New US laser weapon (with Israeli subcontractor) tested for Iraq

developed by Northrop Grumman, a Pentagon-funded laser weapon prototype - capable of bringing down rockets and even helicopters - is currently under assessment for use in Iraq. The laser system has passed several successful tests after a decade of development, prompting the lead contractor to suggest the weapon could be used in Baghdad's Green Zone to protect it from mortar attack.
THEL beamer
THEL beamer
Katyusha rocket being shot down by laser
Katyusha rocket being shot down by laser
THEL radar and fire control system
THEL radar and fire control system

the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) program was developed for US Space & Missile Defense Command and the Israel MOD demonstration tests by TRW, now part of Northrop Grumman corp. Subcontractors for the program include Ball Aerospace and Ball Aerospace in the US and the Israeli companies: Elbit/El-Op, IAI/Elta which built the radar and fire control system, RAFAEL and Tadiran.


MTHEL uses directed energy (laser beam) to intercept aerial targets such as rockets, missiles, artillery shells and other aerial threats. The target destruction is achieved by projecting a highly focused, high-power laser beam, delivered by a chemical laser, with enough energy to affect the target, and explode it in midair.

. . .

MTHEL is a development of the mobile version of the Tactical High Energy Laser  http://www.defense-update.com/directory/THEL.htm (THEL) testbed weapon, developed by Northrop Grumman under a US Army contract. The program is expected to provide a completed prototype by 2007.

. . .

THEL/ACTD program was developed for US Space & Missile Defense Command and the Israel MOD demonstration tests by TRW, now part of Northrop Grumman corp. Subcontractors for the program include Ball Aerospace and Ball Aerospace in the US and the Israeli companies: Elbit/El-Op, IAI/Elta which built the radar and fire control system, RAFAEL and Tadiran.

homepage: homepage: http://www.defense-update.com/directory/THEL.htm

more on the Israel connection 10.May.2005 14:36


from The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) [who's JINSA?:  link to portland.indymedia.org] web site:

 link to www.jinsa.org

The joint U.S.-Israel Tactical High Energy Laser [THEL] Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration [ACTD] laser subsystem achieved "first light" at the TRW Capistrano Test Facility in California, the Department of Defense announced July 1, 1999. "First light" describes the first successful test of a laser. The test demonstrated the end-to-end capability of the laser subsystem and demonstrated the laser optical control of extracting a high-energy laser beam.

The THEL is meant to intercept short-range rockets by tracking them and then aiming a laser beam to destroy them in flight. The project had been hampered by cost overruns and at one point was in danger of being shut down. THEL was launched in April 1996 after the Clinton administration announced that the United States and Israel would undertake a joint effort to evaluate the effectiveness of a laser program against the threat posed by Katyusha rockets to northern Israel.

THEL Shoots Down Two More Katyushas in Latest Test, 9/22/00
 link to www.jinsa.org

The U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command and Mafat, the Defense Ministry's weapons systems development and infrastructure administration, are running the program. Israel is paying for about one third of the costs.

The laser weapon is being built under contract by Cleveland-based TRW Space and Laser Programs Division. Israeli industries involved include Tadiran, IAI, El-Op, Elta, and Rafael. Costs have been shared by the Israeli and American governments.

U.S.-Israeli Laser Destroys Medium-Range Missile in Flight [May 7, 2004]
 link to www.jinsa.org

Although the system, located at the U.S. Army Missile Range at White Sands, NM, has been successfully tested against short-range Katyusha rockets, yesterday's unspecified target missile, described by lead-U.S. contractor Northrop Grumman as "representative of threats faced by U.S. and Israeli forces," posed a much more sophisticated challenge by presenting a target moving at more than twice the speed, three-times the altitude and significantly more mass than the MTHEL system has faced thus-far.

Tactical High Energy Laser (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. Hezbollah'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.

In April 1996, Hezbollah guerrillas fired over two dozen Katyusha rockets at Israel within 17 days. After that, the U.S. and Israel accelerated the high energy laser project, then known as the Tactical High Energy Laser/Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator, or THEL/ACTD. Although Israel has not been attacked since it withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Israeli officials estimate that Hezbollah still has 11,000 Katyushas aimed at border towns.

Once operational, THEL will consist of four main components: a command center, a fire control radar, a pointer-tracker, and the high energy laser itself. The command center, known as Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I), will manage all aspects of the system, including detecting, tracking, and destroying incoming targets within THEL's range. C3I will be operated by a two-man crew: a commander and a gunner.


Beyond Bullets

laser beam firing 10.May.2005 15:47