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Nautilus Tactical High Energy Laser  (Source: Northrop Grumman)

Effective range of Kassam and Katyusha rockets.  (Source: Koret Communications Ltd.)
Residents in Sderot have had enough of rocket attacks and want the laser-based Nautilus system in place

DailyTech recently discussed the use of military-grade laser used as weapons in a number of articles. Boeing installed a 12,000-pound, high-energy laser into its C-130H Gunship and Northrop Grumman has similar "laser ambitions" with the Guardian anti-missile system installed in an MD-10 cargo jet.

While Americans are typically apathetic to the use of such technology for military duties, some residents in Israel are clamoring to have laser-based weapons as a safety net for their towns. Sderot residents have gone so far as to sue the Israeli government -- more specifically, they named Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as defendants in the civil suit.

The Sderot residents want the Israeli government to install the Nautilus Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) system to protect the region from Kassam and Katyusha rockets. Sderot has been heavily bombarded with such rockets over the years which have resulted in numerous deaths. The residents feel that suing the government may be its only chance for protection against further attacks.

"Israel could bring the system to Sderot and use it to protect the people there from Kassam rockets," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner who heads the Israel Law Center which represents the Sderot residents. "In 1996, when Israel was under threat from Lebanon, Israel asked the United States to help them establish a system to protect northern settlements from Katyusha rockets. This system, called Nautilus, shot down Katyushas, Kassams and bombs with 100 percent success."

Unfortunately for the Sderot residents, the Nautilus program stalled in 2005 after ten years of development and $400 million USD spent between Israel and the United States. Since that time, rocket fire has increased which has led the Israeli government to develop yet another system dubbed "Iron Dome." The Iron Dome system will cost the government $100,000 for each incoming rocket it destroys – if it destroys them at all. Recent tests show that Iron Dome is incapable of protecting Sderot from incoming Kassam rockets.

"[Nautilus is] just sitting there in New Mexico. There is a way to take it apart, bring it to Israel and rebuild it," Darshan-Leitner continued. "A company told me that it would take no longer than five or six months. It would cost around 50 million dollars to rebuild it, but there would be unlimited protection against Katyushas, Kassams, and bombs."

Despite Darshan-Leitner's optimism of the performance of the Nautilus system -- she quotes an extremely optimistic 100 perfect effective rate -- a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Ministry says that such claims are preposterous. "As long as there was a chance that the results would lead to a functional, effective missile defense system we stuck with the program. But in 2005 the US military backed out of the program because it wasn't working, and we decided to end our involvement as well," said spokesman Shlomo Dror.

Despite the concerns from Sderot residents, Dror tried to express that the government is working hard to provide protection for its citizens.

"There is no way to put a price tag on the trauma caused by living with the ongoing threat from, and even more for people injured or even killed by Kassam attacks, God forbid," said Dror. "We are spending as much as we need to in order to develop the most effective system we can to protect residents of Sderot and the entire western Negev region."

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RE: Peace
By Master Kenobi on 3/13/2008 3:18:36 PM , Rating: 5
Well, in the old days these problems were avoided by the simple concept of one side annihilating the other. Thus preventing long drawn out crap like this.

RE: Peace
By DigitalFreak on 3/13/08, Rating: -1
RE: Peace
By FingerMeElmo87 on 3/13/08, Rating: -1
RE: Peace
By blowfish on 3/13/2008 4:30:44 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah - the bronze age old days talked about in the Old Testament, and then copied from that for the Koran - ancient primitve tribes exterminating each other, killing all men and male children, only keeping the females who had not "known" men.

Strange then that so many people, especially in the USA, look to the bible for their morals.Yet those same people, morally locked in the bronze age, happily drive cars, fly on planes and generally enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.

As for the larger issue of peace in the middle east - conflict seems inevitable when a country is created by the simple expedient of grabbing land and expelling its existing residents. I wonder about the ancestry of eastern european jews who've moved to israel - they can hardly claim any connection to the land.

I suspect there'd be conflict in the USA if Mexico decided to invade and deport all US residents, although they would be taking back some of their old land in the process.

RE: Peace
By cochy on 3/13/2008 4:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone seems to be under the impression that Palestinians were "kicked" out as a result of the creation of Israel. This is hogwash.

Land wasn't grabbed. In fact before the British left the Jews there were buying land from the Palestinians. They only "land grabbing" happened as a result of Israeli victories in the Arab-Israeli wars. Much of this land has been given back to secure peace ie. Sinai.

There is so much incomplete and misinformation about this conflict that it's pretty irresponsible to discuss the whole issue around here.

RE: Peace
By KristopherKubicki on 3/13/2008 4:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone seems to be under the impression that Palestinians were "kicked" out as a result of the creation of Israel. This is hogwash.

You're right. Most never left.

RE: Peace
By cochy on 3/13/2008 5:04:18 PM , Rating: 2
The ones who had always lived in Gaza and the West Bank were occupied by Egypt and Jordan before any Israeli occupation. The land was captured by Israel after they won the wars. Gaza has been completely withdrawn from.

RE: Peace
By andrinoaa on 3/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: Peace
By cochy on 3/13/2008 6:09:24 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not laying any blame. Just pointing out misinformation.

RE: Peace
By andrinoaa on 3/14/2008 12:08:31 AM , Rating: 1
If thats your intention, I apologize for the language, but you come across as one sided.
Just look at how many resources have been thrown at the problem by everyone. Surely , the same mistakes cannot continue to be made? Can they?
Israel plays a damn hard game as everyone will tell you, but they have to understand that the Palestinians will never give up. Therefore, another path must be taken.
The fact that neither side gives an inch suggests to me they should both have the BOMB. Its amazing how MAD can focus the mind.
Both sides are arsholes, let there be no mistake about it. Therefore don't take sides, don't have simpathy for either since they both want to play this fucking childs game.

RE: Peace
By cochy on 3/14/2008 11:36:59 AM , Rating: 2
I may come off as one sided, I agree. But I'll not lay blame on any one sided for starting the conflict or failing to put an end to it. People in the region have been running around in this circle of violence for so long, everyone is pretty dizzy by now.

RE: Peace
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 3/13/08, Rating: 0
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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