March 25, 2008, Tel Aviv, Israel--According to a breaking news story on WorldTribune.com, Israel has concluded that a U.S. laser system would not serve as an interim defense solution for the frequent rocket and missile attacks it has sustained. The Defense Ministry concluded that Skyguard, a laser-based system developed by Northrop Grumman, could not guarantee defense against short-range missiles and rockets fired either from Lebanon or the Gaza Strip, officials said.
Skyguard was touted as an advanced version of the Israeli-U.S. Tactical High-Energy Laser, or THEL. Over the last 18 months, Northrop Grumman sent at least two delegations to brief the ministry and military on the capabilities of Skyguard. The company said Skyguard could intercept missiles fired from several directions and contained a footprint of eight-square kilometers.
In mid-March, Defense Ministry director-general Pinchas Buhris discussed Skyguard and attended live-fire tests at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. But in a test on March 17, Skyguard intercepted eight out of 36 missiles meant to simulate the Hamas-origin Kassam-class, short-range missile. Officials said Northrop Grumman, which scheduled the test in December 2007, had assured the Israeli delegation that Skyguard could intercept at least 21 missiles. They said the company had insisted that the system was enhanced in 2007 and could be ready for operations within four months.
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