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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: Takin' the high road...
By BZDTemp on 3/14/2008 4:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
It's easy to go for the high road when you sit in a comfy chair!

While I do not says it is okay that Israel are being fought with rockets "aimed"* at civilians or by suicide bombers I do understand why such measures are used. The case is one the one side there is a modern army which is even backed by the US and on the other side there is a people under siege fighting with whatever they can use. Pretty much the only chance of making Israel stop occupation is to make their war unbearable and fighting tanks, gunships and fighter planes is impossible with what is essentially home made fire works.

I can even understand the suicide bombers. Imagine your self living in a world with no future, with you family and all families around you fighting just to survive (and this is literally not just like some kid around here who can't survive without a car). In a situation like this I can see why someone pays the ultimate price in the vain little hope that the sacrifice may make a difference.

We need the UN to step in like they have done in so many places and was it not for the US vetoing that action again and again Israel and in fact the whole region would properly be a nice and peaceful place.

RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 5:07:12 PM , Rating: 4
Thank you very much for such a great reply. It's not biased, it's just a realistic view of the situation. I already said killing civilians is NOT justified in ANY situation. But, what could drive someone to such a desperate measure. I wish people would try to PUT themselves in others' shoes and try to view the situation from different points. But instead, people always look at it from what they've been driven by the media, or growing up, or their own beliefs.

I always try to look at it unbiased, but, i admit, it's hard, i most of the time just bash Israel, but them say to myself ... we're, as Arabs, doing huge mistakes and then blaming the world for not siding with us, or, with the right side anyway whether it's us or them. So, we should look in the mirror before blaming the world for their views. AND get this thing done for the SAKE of those innocent people getting grinded for no reason other than our own selfeshness.

Anyway, i have discussed this issue a LOT, that and Islam religion, and came to the conclusion (based on what i gathered from opinions) that people usually think in one way ... the media way. Simple example ... most of whom i talked to, think that Islam is a terrorist religion, or at least a war religion ... man, they couldn't have been more wrong. If they only BOTHERED to look deeper, or at least leave out all the fanatic views and go to the source and read the CONTEXT, they'll know the truth.

Thanks for all your opinions guys, see you in other articles.

RE: Takin' the high road...
By os008 on 3/14/2008 5:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
Forgot to add ... the word Islam means Peace in Arabic by the way, don't think a lot know that fact. Also, it means 'removing' harm off of anyone.

Correction in the previous post ... but them say to myself >>> but then say to myself.

RE: Takin' the high road...
By JustTom on 3/14/2008 6:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
The UN stepping in and doing anything successfully is unlikely in the extreme.
Going back to the original post: just because causality rates are unbalanced between two combatants implies no moral failing on the side that is killing more, what it implies is success at killing. The reasons for the killings are what determine its morality.
Nowhere did I suggest that I don’t understand why Palestinian militias use the tactics they do. I understand it fully, although it is somewhat more complex than you suggest. Part of the problem is the use of Israel as a bogey man among inept Muslim leaders. They can mask the failings of their rule by blaming everything on Israel and the West. The Palestinians after 60 years are still homeless living in refugee camps; why has no Arab government asked given them sanctuary? The answer is easy; it is the official policy of the Arab League not to allow Palestinians to be citizens of any Arab country.
I have stated elsewhere that I believe the post WWII establishment of Israel was a historical and moral mistake. However, it is unlikely that Israel is going anywhere anytime soon.

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