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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 cochy on 3/13/2008 3:23:23 PM , Rating: 3
Your personal take on history needs revising. Plus you should also understand that "peace" is relative. There hasn't been "peace" in the region since well, I can't say exactly but definitely since before WWII. The Ottomans had a pretty brutal occupation of Palestine before the British took over in WWI. I wouldn't call British occupation peaceful, all the lands they've occupied in Asia and Africa (not to mention America) have had or have now lots of issues as a result.

RE: Peace
By KristopherKubicki on 3/13/2008 4:04:30 PM , Rating: 5
You sure about that?

The Ottomans didn't even have a name for the region, it was largely dismissed as a backwater nowhere in the empire.

And you can't say that the Ottomans were particularly brutal to just the residents of the region, since they ended up being particularly brutal to residents in all of its regions *cough*Armenia*cough* before the empire fall apart.

But find me an example of genocide or war over the region during the Caliphs? The Romans and Byzantians completely banned Jews from the area for the previous 700 years -- the Caliphs not only removed the ban, but encouraged Jewish pilgrams to resettle the area.

Sounds like peace to me.

RE: Peace
By cochy on 3/13/2008 4:24:36 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not talking about wars or genocide. Basically I'm referring to the fact that Palestine has been "occupied" by a foreign power for a very long time. It was only until the birth of Israel do we have a true nation there. The land is being developed and an economy is hoping to flourish. The Ottomans may not have been brutal in the sense of murders and prosecution but they sure were not a catalyst for prosperity, nor were the British.

To the OP, don't just say the Israeli's need to practice human rights with a perfect sense of understanding of what is going on there. For quick example: What happened after the Israelis unilaterally completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip? An increase in violence is what. Militants took over the area and started launching more rocket attacks, now the militant Hamas are completely in charge of that region. That is the result of Israeli withdrawal, forgive them if they are a little hesitant to withdraw some more at the moment.

RE: Peace
By WelshBloke on 3/13/2008 7:40:57 PM , Rating: 2
Basically I'm referring to the fact that Palestine has been "occupied" by a foreign power for a very long time.

According to the Palestinians it still is.

RE: Peace
By JustTom on 3/14/2008 11:32:55 AM , Rating: 2
If you define peace in the narrowest terms then after the initial Islamic conquests -which were very often horrific - the area certainly was peaceful. What it was not is just. There legal system existed specifically to benefit Muslims. Any other religious group was treated as a second tier citizen.

Also, you are ignoring the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim who ordered the destruction of churches and synagogues along with forced conversion to Islam. While these actions probably did not merit being called genocidal they dance around the edge of it. Most of the Fatimid Caliphs were religiously tolerant-especially in historical context-but there were certainly exceptions.

As far as war over the region during the rule of the Caliphate, certainly you are not indicating your belief that the area was peacefully acquired? I won't point out the Christian Crusades since legitimately the Caliph was not in control of them. However, there are ample examples of warfare among Muslims during the rule of the Caliphs. The Mamluk conquest of Egypt is an obvious example.
And specifically, how do you think a Caliph would respond to rockets raining down on his villages? I am pretty sure his actions would make the Israeli's appear to be scared little school girls.

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