An artillery shell has been shot down for the first time during a test of the TRW-built Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL) system. The shell exploded harmlessly in the air before reaching its target.

MTHEL is a joint Israeli/US programme to develop a mobile defence system able to defeat a range of airborne targets. In earlier tests the system shot down Katyusha rockets fired singly and in salvos.

Israeli defence sources say the successful test may spur its development as a weapon system against low-flying aircraft and helicopters.

TRW is the MTHEL prime contractor with Rafael a subcontractor. The change in emphasis was influenced by Israeli requirements and unlike the first phases of the design process, Rafael is now closely involved in scaling down system components.

Source: Flight International