Israel ingenuity proves ‘Light’ Years” ahead with its ‘Light Blade’ laser, ready to counter Gaza’s burning kites and fire balloons
By David E. Kaplan
Having repeatedly tried to devise life-saving responses to counter existential threats from Gaza – most notably the ‘Iron Dome’ that intercepts missiles and sophisticated technology to thwart terror tunnels – next up for Israel inventiveness was a solution to deal with the threat of kites and balloons.
Kites and balloons?
While kites and balloons would conjure up in most parts of the world images of ‘kid’s stuff’, not so in Israel’s Western Negev where for local residents, they are associated with death, devastation and destruction.
These balloons and kites have caused over eight thousand acres of Israel farmland, forests and nature reserves being reduced to burnt-black swaths across a once verdant landscape.
However, what a difference a year makes in the “Start-up Nation”!
In October 2018, a writer in Ynetnews penned an article titled ‘Kite, Balloon Terrorism Continues Scorching Israel’s Land’. Lamenting that despite the IDF’s efforts following 100 days of kites and balloons terrorism, which caused massive damage to agricultural produce and destroying Israeli land, the writer noted that “the threat was only increasing.”
The article further noted that while the IDF was operating a system able to detect and track the balloons and kites, they were however, still “not being intercepted while in the air.”
Rising to the challenge, Israel has come up with an answer.
It was revealed in The Jerusalem Post this past 2019 Christmas Day that “Israeli security forces have unveiled a new laser-beam system designed to take down incendiary aerial devices which have burned countless acres of land over the past two years as well as drones infiltrating into Israeli airspace.”
Dubbed the ‘Light Blade’, the system was developed by engineers in the private sector along with researchers from Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and technological departments within the Israel Police and IDF.
Successfully tested by the police, it is believed the Light Blade system is the world’s first system to destroy deadly “fire kites and arson balloons”. Not only is this a game-changer to counter the balloon and kite threat from Gaza, trials optimistically further indicate that the Light Blade would also neutralize armed drones – a threat mostly emanating from Iranian-sponsored terrorists in the north.
The Light Blade is a laser system that looks much like a miniature Iron Dome – the more familiar anti-missile defense system that protects Israel from short-range rocket attack. The Light Blade tracks the suspicious airborne object, locks onto it, and blasts it with a unique laser beam. If the incoming projectile is a balloon loaded with flammable material, it will explode in the air. If it is a drone, its motor will be ZAPPED forcing it to crash.
The result – another major threat to Israel neutralized.
The Charge Of The Light Blade
The Light Blade can work night and day and has a two-kilometer (1.2 miles) range. It is also relatively inexpensive to produce which will enable the security forces to equip themselves quickly with a large supply.
The system was developed over the past year by three experts in electro-optics and lasers: Prof. Ami Yeshaya, Dr. Rami Aharoni and Dr. Udi Ben Ami. They established a company called OptiDefense to create the technology, signing a cooperative agreement with the police led by Border Police chief, Yaakov Shabtai.
According to Israel’s Channel 12 News that witnessed a string of tests, the Light Blade passed with flying colors.
“The system provides an almost complete response to the threat of balloons and kites and provides an effective and safe solution to the drone threat,” a beaming Shabtai proudly told the network.
Hopefully this will mean the end of the arson balloon and kite threat that have caused millions of dollars of ecological damage in the south, burning thousands of acres of cropland and forests.
Who knows what new threats may emerge that will forever require Israeli ingenuity to neutralize!
C’est la vie