Israel won't buy US laser cannons to defend borders
Toxic-waste 'Nautilus' raygun plan dumped again
Israel's defence ministry has quashed a simmering debate regarding laser-cannon defences for the Israeli border, according to reports.
Pinchas Buchris, a senior Israeli defence official, said yesterday that his ministry had made a firm decision not to buy American raygun technology. He had just returned from a trip to the US, during which he re-evaluated the "Nautilus" beam-weapon gear (aka Sky Guard), offered by wartech titan Northrop Grumman.
Israeli towns such as Sderot, located close to the Gaza border, frequently suffer harrassing rocket bombardments. The unguided "Qassam" weapons* used - built to World War II-vintage designs - are extremely inaccurate and produce relatively few casualties, but do cause serious disruption to local life. The strikes have led to media and legal campaigns in Israel pushing for installation of Northrop's beam-weapon defences to shoot down incoming rockets.
"Were we to order it as is, to protect Sderot, we would create two things," Buchris told Israel's Army Radio.
"First, there would be the illusion, for Sderot residents, that it provides a response. Another thing, we would create a situation where Hamas felt it had scored an achievement in that... we have no way of coping with the Qassams."
The Israeli military first looked at Nautilus/Sky Guard some years ago, and successful shootdowns have been carried out against test rockets. However, the Northrop raygun batteries use chemical laser technology, meaning that they require large amounts of dangerous fuel to operate. They also produce equally-nasty toxic exhaust products, making the weapons even more expensive, hazardous and logistically burdensome to operate.
The Israeli forces seemed to feel at the time that buying hugely expensive chemical rayguns in response to cheap homemade weapons would serve more to magnify the rockets' effect on Israel than to mitigate it. A case of using solid-gold barrels of toxic waste to squash flies, as it were.
The official Israeli plan is instead to introduce a domestically-made system called "Iron Dome". This will use counter-missiles to shoot down the incoming Qassams and Katyushas, and is planned to be in service from 2010. ®
*Almost all the weapons used to bombard Israel from outside its borders are extremely simple unguided rockets developing from 1930s designs such as the old Soviet "Katyusha", often of Iranian manufacture nowadays, whose name is still used. Other terms include the "Qassam", usually referring to even simpler home- or workshop-built jobs from Gaza.
Bombardment rockets have actually been around a lot longer than since the 1930s. The British forces deployed rocket artillery in the early 19th century, cribbing the idea from Indian weapons used against them in earlier wars. Then and now, unguided rockets are inaccurate and many must be fired to produce much effect on a chosen target.
To all Anonymous Cowards
>Your "anti-sniper radar for Katyusha" has one flaw: the perpetrators are
>nowhere near the rockets when they are fired. You'd have to spot them
> setting up, and they're probably pretty good at Maskirovska.
I think you are misunderstanding (actually mix-up separate methods directed at different things).
The sniper is oriented by visual confirmation as to where it comes from (ever hear of continuously flying drone systems). So sensors in the sky and on buildings are sufficient.
The missile shoot down is done by radar (and visual if needed) it doesn't matter where it is fired from or what elevation, what matters is what it passes.
As per the method, NO EXPLOSIVE ROUND IS FIRED INTO CROWDED AREAS, THE METHODS ARE DESIGNED TO ISOLATE OUT INNOCENT NON-COMBATANTS (unlike many present methods) re-read it.
I hope you realise that you don't need a border check point to drop in weaponry, in particular if it was done prior to isolation. We developed the most advanced over the horizon radar system in the world in Australia, and still it was penetrated undetected. The systems might be more advance nowadays, but there are still ways around them, in particular tunneling.
Sorry for the spelling, haven't been well and wrote it quickly.
The problem with the proposed method is
a) that rockets are indirect fire weapons - they go up, they come down. This means that direct fire weapons such as sniper rifles will never have a direct line of sight onto the firer.
b) Gaza, the "area of launch", is one of the most heavily populated parts of the planet. Around 1.4 million people live in a tiny area (around 360 square miles, whilst London is around 700 square miles), roughly one-third in refugee camps. This means that Gaza is the 6th most densely populated part of the planet, slightly more than Gibraltar, slightly less than Singapore. In short every time the Israelis drop an explosive round into Gibraltar, sorry Gaza, a whole bunch of non-combatants get dead. Very few Israelis have been killed by Quassams, whilst its safe to say that hundreds of Gazans have been killed by Israeli bombs and armoured attacks.
For comparison the Israelis had around 8,000 settlers in the Gaza strip before they were pulled out.
c) Israel controls Gaza's airspace, coast and borders. The exception is the Egyptian controlled Rafah crossing point which saw thousands of people flee the recent Israeli air and ground raids. Following the election of Hamas the Israelis have had the Gaza strip under siege - no goods that are not of a directly humanitarian nature are allowed into Gaza.
Incidentally c makes the "Iran provides the rockets" thing a load of marsh gas. Gaza has no border points available to smuggle any quantity of weapons in, and frankly long-range rockets are bloody heavy and don't like to be knocked around, so moving them via tunnels has been impractical.
It is hoped that at some time the people of Gaza will be allowed a sea-port of their own, but the future of Gaza's destroyed airport (by the Israelis in 2001) is yet to be agreed as the Israelis cannot allow the Palestinians the ability to bring weapons in. Both of these were part of the peace agreement, which seems to have gone the way of the dodo.
Your "anti-sniper radar for Katyusha" has one flaw: the perpetrators are nowhere near the rockets when they are fired. You'd have to spot them setting up, and they're probably pretty good at Maskirovska.