Anti-missile laser cannon jointly tested by Israel, US
JERUSALEM (AFP) Apr 30, 2004
A joint US-Israeli test of an anti-missile laser cannon was partially successful, the Israeli defense ministry said Friday.

"The trial was conducted at the White Sands US army base (in New Mexico). In accordance with the principal objective, we managed to locate the missile" and track it, "without being able however to attain our secondary objective, which was to destroy it," the statement said.

The statement added that "the trial consisted, first and foremost, in locating the missile and trace it," and only "incidentally" to neutralize it.

The test was part of the THEL/MTHEL (Tactical High Energy/Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser) project on which the United States and several Israeli armament firms have been working since the late 1990s.

The MTHEL (a mobile version of the THEL with a lesser range) has already successfully been tested against Katyusha rockets fired individually or in salvos.

Experts say the THEL/MTHEL's most interesting feature, compared with a classic anti-missile missile, lies in its low operating costs and ability to be repeatedly fired at short intervals.

Israel views the MTHEL as a good way to protect itself against Katyusha rockets, typically fired across its northern frontier by the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah on its northern frontier.