JERUSALEM — Rafael Advanced Defense Systems recently tested its Drone Dome counter-UAS system, during which the system identified and intercepted moving targets using a high-powered laser beam.
Drone Dome consists of drone jammer and electronic sensors to detect, identify and neutralize micro and mini-UAVs. The demonstration by the Israeli company was carried out in a desert area with several types of drones, including commercially available quadcopters. A high-powered laser beam mounted on a jeep, along with the other sensors in the Drone Dome, detected the threat and allowed the crew to monitor its activity. A swarm of three drones was then neutralized using the lasers. One by one, the drones fell from the sky.
Rafael exhibited seven drones which were destroyed by the laser. The scorched impact areas showed their charred rotors and motors.
Swarms of small drones have proven to be a challenge for advanced armies. In 2018, drones shut down Gatwick Airport in the UK for around 30 hours. Small drones have also been used by militant organizations, such as the Islamic State group. And more than a dozen drones damaged oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia in September 2019.
Drone Dome is one of Rafael's many multi-layered air defense systems. It also manufactures the land-based Iron Dome and a naval variant, C-Dome, as well as SPYDER, a surface-to-air missile system designed to counter aircraft, helicopters and drones.
Lasers are at the center of Israel's concerns as it seeks to counter threats to its homeland. In August 2019, Hezbollah attempted to launch what Israel called "killer drones" near the Golan Heights. A drone launched from Syria also entered Israeli airspace in February 2018 and was shot down by an Apache helicopter.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Directorate of Defense Research and Development are designing new laser solutions, and its new Momentum multi-year plan for the Israel Defense Forces envisions increased use of laser technology to stop threats such as drones.