The Israeli Ministry of Defense (MoD) performed tests of an airborne high-powered laser system from Elbit Systems [ESLT] to take down multiple unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), the MoD announced in a June 21 press release.

The tests, which are part of the first phase in the development of the laser system, were conducted with the Directorate for Defense R&D, Elbit Systems, and Israeli Air Force (IAF), Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of the military R&D in the IMOD, said in a video released by the MoD. The laser system was installed on single-engine Cessna 208B Grand Caravan and had optic and tracking capabilities.

“During this tests, which is the first phase in the development of our airborne high-power laser system we have installed an advanced laser on the aircraft with advanced optics and tracking capabilities and we have successfully intercepted a number of UAVs within a range of above 1 KM,” Rotem said. “All of the launched UAVs were intercepted and fell into the sea.”

According to the release, the tests took place at multiple altitudes and various ranges.

A drone after being targeted with Elbit’s airborne high power laser system. (Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office)

Being able to intercept UAVs in the air will provide Israel with more opportunities to counter drone threats as they will not have to wait until the drone is within range of ground systems, Oren Sabag, general manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR, said.

“The advantage of an airborne high-power laser system is that it enables us to thwart threats far away from population centers and we increase the range within which we can thwart threats effectively,” Sabag said.

The system first identifies the drone target, starts tracking it, and then deploys a high-power laser beam to defeat the UAV, Sabag said.

This system is also advantageous because it has a low cost per interception and the ability to target drone threats regardless of weather conditions, according to the release. The system will work with Israel’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow missile interceptor systems.

“I would like to congratulate the Directorate for Defense R&D, Elbit Systems and the IAF on the technological breakthrough they have achieved,” Benny Gantz, Israel’s Defense Minister, said in a statement. “Today you have brought us closer to yet another important milestone in the development of the multi-tier defense array of the State of Israel and it is significant both in terms of cost-effectiveness and defense capabilities. The laser system will add a new layer of protection at greater ranges and in facing a variety of threats – securing the State of Israel while saving the costs of interception. I am confident that Israel’s defense industry will succeed in this important development program, and I will personally work together with the entire defense establishment to ensure its success.”