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
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
The Sderot residents want the Israeli government to install
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
"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
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
Despite the concerns from Sderot residents, Dror tried to
express that the government is working hard to provide protection for its
"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."