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Test of laser-based missile defense system is successful

laser
The Tactical High Energy Laser is designed to destroy Katyusha rockets armed with live warheads in flight  

Israel may put technology to use

June 7, 2000
Web posted at: 10:19 p.m. EDT (0219 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The successful test of a laser-based missile defense system may mean Israel will soon have a potent new weapon to defend against rocket attacks.

In a test conducted on Tuesday, a 122 mm Katyusha rocket was fired from New Mexico's White Sands missile range. Seconds later, a powerful chemical laser several miles down range successfully tracked and destroyed the rocket with an invisible beam.

The U.S. Army said the test was of breakthrough technology called the Tactical High Energy Laser, designed by TRW Corp.

"Israel has made it very clear that it will protect its people along its northern border," said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon. "The United States has worked with Israel in the past to meet its security needs, and we'll continue to meet with Israel in the future."

 VIDEO
VideoMilitary Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports on the successful test of a laser intended to destroy missiles in flight.
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Israel is fortifying its Lebanon border with an electronic fence, beefed-up army outposts and high-tech detection devices to replace its abandoned military presence inside Lebanon.

Israel had hoped to have the anti-Katyusha laser fully deployed before giving up its buffer zone in Lebanon, but the $190 million dollar project is slightly behind schedule and over budget.

It could be deployed as soon as early next year, if further testing shows the laser can destroy multiple rockets at once.

Though the United States picked up part of the costs of the test and has nothing like the rocket-killing laser in its arsenal, it has no plans to field the system, officials said. With no threat from its neighbors, the United States wants a system that is more mobile and has the capability to defeat a wider range of missiles.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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