back to article Israel won't buy US laser cannons to defend borders

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, …


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  1. A. H. O. Thabeth

    Evidence please

    "...simple unguided rockets developing from 1930s designs such as the old Soviet "Katyusha", often of Iranian manufacture nowadays.."

    What is the evidence that these rockets are Iranian?

  2. b

    Al Nakba

  3. Steve
    Thumb Up


    Fragments have been reassembled and seem to be stamped

    "Made in Iran"

  4. Mage Silver badge

    Read carefully

    The current "Qassam" rockets are Gaza made. Probably less accurate than Provo / IRA mortars. Certainly while plenty are fired few seem to kill anyone.

    It was in the past Iran made some "Katyusha". I have no idea if they still do. Or what they may or may not be supplying to Iraq.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crude but still deadly.

    These Qassam and Katyusha rockets may be crude, antiquated old-school technology with no guidance systems but they can in rare instances be deadly and I still wouldnt want one of them to hit my house. Not that they have the range to hit here in the UK but thats to digress.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re:evidence please

    The Katyusha's are Iranian made, the Qassams Gazan made. Most of the evidence is usually found not when they find the remains of the rockets, but when they intercept them while they are being smuggled. Most are usually transported or freight forwarded under the guise of something else (everything from vegetables to automotive spare parts), and all of them originate from either Iran or Syria.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too right they won't be buying it

    If they want it (and the article does not demonstrate they don't), then they probably can get it for free. They won't be buying lots of other military hardware either, just blagging it.

    No news here, move along now.

  8. Ferry Boat

    re:re:evidence please

    And there was me thinking that the Americans had ordered the Israelis to paint 'Made in Iran' on the bits. All part of the global grand plan and so on.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can't believe people are even debating whether the rockets are Iranian made, that's pretty much set in stone now and is a debate that belongs to last decade. There's plenty of evidence that Iran has been supplying the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iraqi shia insurgency amongst other groups.

    There's plenty of ways to identify the source of weaponry, the most obvious is simply capturing such weapons in transit from Iran but then theres other obvious methods like simply comparing the designs of the weapons against Iranian designs as well as looking for other such traits. There is of course the fact that some weaponry is just outright Iranian marked as has been pointed out but that's not good enough evidence really as it's too easy for apologists of Islamic extremism to conjure up the truly paranoid in Western society to believe it's all a big conspiracy and their goverments are out to get them and that islamic extremists are secretly poor innocent people who would never hurt anyone. I'm not ever going to defend the actions of the US in Iraq or the likes, but the people who will take their anti-US/Israeli hate to the level of defending Iran and it's clear equally, if not more so destabilizing influence on the region to the US need a serious reality check. At least the US is _trying_ to spread peace even if it's failing miserably, Iran is just outright trying to spread hatred and resentment and succeding, because it's just too easy amongst such disillusioned peoples.

    So how do we get the evidence we require? the most foolproof methods come from various foresnsics techniques such as examining the isotopic signature of the various elements of the weapons and matching them with known isotopic signatures of raw materials from Iran. Unless the conspiracy theorist Iran apologists think the US/Israel are magically planting raw materials for weapon parts in Iran with isotopic signatures that match the weapons fired from Gaza it's pretty much all the evidence you need. I know if you failed basic high school chemistry it's easy to believe that steel is steel, oil is oil and so on but that's simply not the case, these raw materials all have imperfections in and these imperfections are different depending on where they come from, that's how you pinpoint the origin of weapons like this.

    There's an argument that the weapons weren't assembled in Iran even if the isotopic signatures match and hence all the core parts came from there but does that matter? Surely if Iran is supplying metals, fuel and explosives as well as the plans for the weapons along with the accompanying hatred and anti-Western/Jewish propaganda then that's bad enough? Either way, it's not like Iran is doing anything to prevent terrorism, even if some people will still naively suggest it's not doing anything to encourage it either and when it's a nation that's positioned to do so much good then it quite rightly deserves to be shunned for it's actions and unhelpfulness.

  10. Nile Heffernan

    A perfect example of asymmetric warfare

    There's probably no hi-tech answer to the problem of homemade rockets coming in over the Wall. The ratio of cost-of-manufacture to cost-of-countermeasures is probably tens of millions to one... In financial terms, anyway.

    And imposing human costs on Hamas doesn't work; the other asymmetry is that they will tolerate loss of life (and loss of liberty, normality in daily life, etc) from any conceivable Israeli reprisal that far, far exceeds the human costs to Israel.

    It's worth pointing out that the strikes, the reprisals, and the costs can get worse, and probably will. The natural response to this kind of situation is to do more of the same: try harder, pay more, and fail harder - and this kind of response can continue, and worsen, for years or even decades until a complete collapse of the economy and society.

    It's been time for a different approach for years. And it gets harder to do every year; and more necessary, because the consequences of continuing failure get harder every year, too.

    I guess the next stage is a step up in intelligence operations and 'direct action' (a polite term for assassination); a proven programme of Darwinian selection that eliminates the moderates and the careless, and leaves you with smart, meticulous and paranoid enemies with no regard for human life. Worse, it creates a loosely-distributed organisation that can cope with losses - at the cost of tolerating psychotics and lacking the hierarchical structure to discipline them, and without the top-of-the-pyramid authority that can credibly negotiate wth an external government. Assuming this approach hasn't reached the limits of what can be 'achieved' already - and the intel may well be drying up - we'll end up looking at the current Hamas leadership as 'the moderates' and I can't imagine what their successors will think of as a tactic worse than rockets, home-made mortars and suicide bombing. But I am certain they will think of something.

    The whole idea of negotiation is, of course, unthinkable. And maybe I should buy shares in companies doing medium-cost optical tracking systems for anti-aircraft guns.

  11. trackSuit

    Lasers on wheels?

    I imagine it would be expensive to relocate the towers if the position of the border were to move.

    Lasers on towers, at a border? Would that seem like an advertisement of a lack of goodwill towards a neighbour, officially?

    If laser weapons were to be used by one side and not the other, that would surely draw unwanted international attention, eller hur?. Images of the victims of a laser attack would surely be of interest to an excitable media or their audience.

    Perhaps lasers will come to be regarded, not as a weapon of great destructive power (though they can be deadly), but like tasers, a means of visiting spite upon others.

  12. heystoopid
    Black Helicopters


    The great US fictitious aluminium tube affair strikes again is much like the pot calling the kettle black or is it to protect both ALCOA from a swift kick up the ass they rightly deserve ?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Homemade 1930s technology

    Why does the author go out of his way to minimize these rockets as "homemade" and "from the 1930s"? They strike targets up to 16km away. Pretty darn good for homemade! If I were a Sderot resident, and a rain of rockets was heading towards my town, I would not take much comfort in being told that they were homemade, old technology, or terribly inaccurate.

  14. Dave Bell

    Problems with the evidence

    No matter how much we can blather on about methods to identify the source of materials, the key problem is the chain of evidence. If the current US government says they have compared the fragments of these rockets to samples of known provenance, and found a match, the overwhelming problem is whether we can trust them to tell the truth.

    Can the world afford another war based on American lies. And can America find anyone fool enough to lend them the money to pay for it?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Stop Iran!

    It's shameful that the Palestinian freedom fighters have to use shoddy Iranian-manufactured rockets. I say let's give them the same quality and quantity of weapons as the Israelis get from the U.S. That'll rob Iran of influence, and clearly contribute to a positive solution to the current mess - once the Palestinians have precision guided cruise missiles they can use to take out Israeli political and military targets, they'll only hit civilian targets by accident (just as the Israelis do now, if you read their press releases).

  16. Freddie

    Re: Heh

    "Surely if Iran is supplying metals, fuel and explosives as well as the plans for the weapons along with the accompanying hatred and anti-Western/Jewish propaganda then that's bad enough?"

    Yeah, supplying weapons, undermining the democratic process, killing more civilians than their enemies by an order of magnitude or two, occupying lands, defying nato, and preventing education and energy supply. These are a few of the things, off the top of my head, which the Israeli/West has done to the Palestinians. There is no need for "anti-Western/Jewish propaganda", more's the pity.

    It's not hard to see who the bad guys are in this setup, and it isn't `them'. (I don't condone the rocket attacks in any way, however)

  17. Tim Blair

    why bother lead's cheaper?

    why bother when you can average an 80/1 kill ratio and bulldoze all the houses in the way of the latest ultra Zionist "settlement". Yeah stick um in camps and kill them because of their race/religion... that makes sense (to an idiot)

  18. Adam White

    Iron Dome... sure to be cost-effective!


    "Lasers on towers, at a border? Would that seem like an advertisement of a lack of goodwill towards a neighbour, officially?"

    Maintaining goodwill towards their neighbours has never been an Israeli objective.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The Irony

    "...A case of using solid-gold barrels of toxic waste to squash flies...", couldnt help but smile. Isn't that what they are doing now? grenades for stone throwing Arabs, missiles for a stray Arab bullet.

    Paris coz even blondes are smarter

  20. wayne

    More effective to

    I came up with an idea for a solution to this sort of threat years ago.

    Establish a visual sensor network to identify the source of the launch, establish auto targeting system to target the area of launch (there is a way to determine the target that the military should be aware of) hand control over to firing operators that determine if the target and which targets are legitimate and launch. By using a long range bullet like round (and wind radar etc) culprits can be targeted sniper style. Make no mistake, still pretty sophisticated, but a Korean firm has sensor technology able to target night and day with enough ability to clearly see culprits. Alternatively satellite tracking can kick in to track assailants movements and be apprehended. It also maybe possible to tag assailants ands track them, or identify by the tags (fired at them at velocity designed to cause little damage except for the tag) which is desirable when you don't know if a person is an assailant or a bystander, they can then be questioned (please no jokes about the likely hood of the army doing that, this is about what could be done if done correctly). My favourite would be the system where they fire two laser beams that cause the air to electrify and electricity is run down it. With such a system the area can be sweeped within a second of the launch, and then the potential suspects picked up and compared to video evidence. Eventually (given resolution and processing) ultra high definition video evidence could be examined to determine who was involved prior to launch, and also processed to determine if a launch is being setup by image analysis.

    The Australian Navy has been using a rapid fire and targeting system for their ships for years to target missiles and shot them down. This would probably be much more economical and effective.

    It is not warranted to dismiss the chemical lasers on the basis of cost and awkward hazardousness simply (but maybe they were astronomically expensive) as the use of the laser will act as a deterrent to the continued sue of missile attack, that eventually should lead to decreased attacks and decreased use of the hazardous lasers. It is more credible to dismiss because the lasers cant target or act quick enough to ensure effectiveness (which is an possibility). However, they are probably more effective against longer range ballistic missiles, which is probably more likely there designed purpose. However I do some design work on laser scanners and I am sure that it might be possible to target anything in a 360 degree arc in a fraction of a second to a second (which is probably what the Americans are having trouble with).

    I would like to state I am not affiliated with an army of defence contractor, but merely an innovator in consumer oriented electronics.


  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    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.

  23. wayne

    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.


    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.

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