Lockheed Martin and Israeli Rafael have inked a deal to develop a high-powered laser interception system.

Under the agreement, the companies will develop, test, and manufacture a variant of Israel’s 100-kilowatt high-energy laser weapon system Iron Beam.

“This strategic teaming agreement serves as a force multiplier for Rafael and the Israeli market. We are working to ensure our customers receive the most advanced, effective, and best in class systems,” Rafael Chief Executive Officer Yoav Har-Even said.

“This serves as a clear example of Israeli-made capabilities leading to strategic cooperation which will greatly benefit both sides.”

The companies will produce the variant from current assets developed by Rafael and the Israeli Defense Ministry.

‘Ground-Based Air Defense’

The Iron Beam is the first operational ground-based air defense laser system to neutralize wide-ranging threats, including rockets, mortars, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The laser system can intercept threats from a few hundred meters up to several kilometers with pinpoint accuracy.

“The system is designed to provide defense against emerging threats in today’s complex battlefield, bolstering the strength of the Israeli Homefront, and is a catalyst for forging bilateral collaborations,” Rafael’s Executive Vice President Ran Gozali said.

According to Rafael, the Iron Beam is designed to supplement and complement, not replace, existing air defense systems such as the Iron Dome, shooting down smaller projectiles.

Larger projectiles require more powerful missile-based batteries.

In March, the laser system underwent a series of tests, targeting drones, rockets, mortars, and anti-tank missiles, the Times of Israel reported.

“The use of a laser is a ‘game changer’ and the technology is simple to operate and proves to be economically viable,” the Ministry’s Research and Development Team Head Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem said.

New Era of Operations

For years, Lockheed Martin’s operations in the Middle Eastern nation have been mainly limited to supply and maintenance of the Israeli Air Force fleet.

The American manufacturer has provided operational assistance for Israel’s C-130 transport planes, F-35s, and F-16 fighter aircraft.

“Lockheed Martin is entering a new area of operations in Israel. Now, we step into the high-energy laser era and look forward to fielding operational, reliable, and highly-effective systems with teammates such as Rafael,” Lockheed Israel’s Chief Executive Joshua Shani said.