What is Iron Beam?

Iron Beam and Iron Dome have seized the focus in a society distinguished by continual security concerns and increasing defense technologies. These systems are all intended to defend against incoming projectiles, although they use different tactics and technology. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of Iron Beam and Iron Dome, providing a comprehensive analysis to help you make an informed decision regarding their use.


What is Iron Beam Technology?

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Israel developed the Iron Beam, a laser weapon system designed to defend the country from incoming missiles. The new technology resembles weapons from science fiction films such as Star Wars and Star Trek. On February 11, 2014, this revolutionary solution was displayed at the Singapore Airshow. It is now in the spotlight because of the possibility of its deployment in response to the ongoing confrontation with Hamas.

Iron Beam generates a laser beam using a fiber laser to kill an airborne object. A threat is spotted by a surveillance system and tracked by vehicle platforms in order to engage, whether working as a stand-alone system or with external cueing as part of an air defense system. The main benefits of using a directed energy weapon over conventional missile interceptors are lower costs per shot, an unlimited number of firings, lower operational costs, and less manpower. There is also no interceptor debris falling on the protected region. In comparison to expensive missile interceptors, the cost of each interception is negligible—around US$2,000 per shot to cover all costs, vs $100,000 to $150,000 per interceptor firing.

Laser power levels were reported to be “tens of kilowatts” in 2016. While no official data is available, a 2020 report stated that Iron Beam had a maximum effective range of up to 7 km and could destroy missiles, UAVs (drones), and mortar shells four seconds after the twin high-energy fiber-optic lasers made contact with their target. By 2023, energy levels might reach 100 kW or more, and the system could focus a beam at a distance of 10 km (6.2 mi) to the diameter of a coin.

Iron Beam was primarily financed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) as of 2016, with Rafael investigating improving the system’s range and cooperating with other companies to further enhance the prototype. Rafael and Lockheed Martin announced a collaboration in December 2022 to create a laser defense system based on the Iron Beam project. The goal is to create a system comprised of a pair of solid-state lasers that, when coupled, can enhance power up to 300 kW and use multiple beams to simultaneously burn several targets.

Key Features of the Iron Beam

  • A necessary Addition: The Iron Beam is set to become the sixth element of Israel’s integrated missile defense system, joining Arrow 2, Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and the Iron Dome.
  • Fiber Laser Power: The Iron Beam eliminates airborne dangers with a fiber laser, providing a cost-effective and efficient solution.
  • Versatile Deployment: This system can be used as a stand-alone defense mechanism or as part of a larger air defense system.
  • Advantages of Directed Energy: In comparison to typical missile interceptors, the Iron Beam has lower per-shot costs, infinite firing capability, lower operational costs, and avoids the chance of interceptor debris landing on protected regions.
  • Enhanced Range and Capability: In 2020, the system displayed an amazing effective range of up to 7 km, capable of quickly neutralizing missiles, UAVs, and mortar rounds after engaging the target. Furthermore, there are plans to raise energy levels, maybe to 100 kW or higher by 2023.
  • Deploying Iron Beam in Response to Conflict: If the Iron Beam is utilized in active combat, it will be a crucial step for Israel in fortifying its air defense in the middle of the current conflict with Hamas. Initially, the new technology was not expected to be deployed for some years.


RAFAEL is developing two High Energy Laser systems: IRON BEAM and LITE BEAM. LITE BEAM is a 7.5kW HEL interceptor designed to counter mini-unmanned aerial vehicles (C-mUAVs) and ground targets such as IEDs and UXOs. It can neutralize targets from a few hundred meters to 2000 meters away. The first LITE BEAM prototype is already available.

IRON BEAM, on the other side, is a High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS) of 100kW class. It is designed to intercept a wide spectrum of threats, including rockets, artillery, and mortars (RAM), and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), from a few hundred meters to several kilometers away. It is anticipated that it will be the first operational system of its kind.

A Comparison of Iron Beam and Iron Dome

Iron Dome primarily targets short-range threats, with a range of 4 to 70 kilometers. Iron Beam, on the other hand, may engage objects at a greater distance. It has a larger coverage area, making it appropriate for instances where threats may emerge from greater distances.

Because of the speed of light, Iron Beam provides instantaneous interception, whereas Iron Dome relies on missile interceptors. This means that Iron Beam has a faster response time, which increases its chances of a successful outcome, particularly against fast or unexpected threats.

Iron Dome’s missile-based interceptors can be costly, and storing and maintaining them might put a burden on budgets. Because it is a laser-based system, Iron Beam offers a cheaper cost-per-interception, making it an appealing option for military groups trying to maximize their resources.

Iron Dome is extremely portable and may be quickly deployed in a variety of situations. Iron Beam’s deployment possibilities are limited because it requires a stable platform and considerable power sources. However, when properly positioned, it creates an effective barrier against threats.



Both Iron Beam and Iron Dome are still evolving. Iron Beam’s mobility and power supply are being improved, while Iron Dome’s capabilities are being expanded to deal with a broader spectrum of threats. Defense systems will become more advanced and efficient in the future.

Choosing between Iron Beam and Iron Dome in the ever-changing environment of military technologies is dependent on specific requirements and conditions. Iron Beam provides quick and cost-effective laser-based interception, whilst Iron Dome specializes in countering short-range threats with interceptor missiles. Finally, the selection should take into account considerations such as range, cost, and response time.


What is the key difference between Iron Beam and Iron Dome?

The fundamental distinction is in their interception mechanisms. Iron Beam employs lasers, whereas Iron Dome employs interceptor missiles.

Which system is more cost-effective for defense organizations?

Because of its reduced cost-per-interception, Iron Beam is often more cost-effective.

Can Iron Dome protect against long-range threats?

Iron Dome is intended for close-range threats, whereas Iron Beam has a longer effective range.

Are there any notable real-world incidents showcasing the effectiveness of these systems?

Yes, both Iron Beam and Iron Dome have a track record of successfully intercepting threats and defending military assets and civilian populations.

How are these systems expected to evolve in the future?

Both systems are constantly evolving, with new features focusing on mobility, power supply, and the kind of threats they can manage.

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