The prototype of the Nautilus laser gun may be deployed in northern Israel as early as 1998. TRW and the US Department of Defense are close to concluding a $90 million development contract for the system.

Israeli companies will act as subcontractors to TRW, and the Israeli Government will fund one-third of the development cost. The prototype is likely to be deployed against Russian-made BM-21 rockets used by anti-Israeli groups in southern Lebanon.

The Nautilus prototype has been designed as a mobile system and will consist of three trailers. The Israeli companies which will be involved in the programme say that the beam will have a "first-shot" kill capability.

Rafael will concentrate on developing a compact carbon-dioxide laser generator. The MBT weapons division of Israel Aircraft Industries will develop sensors and fire-control elements, and Tadiran will work on communications and and control.

Source: Flight International