Target Lock

Missile and Precision Munitions technology continues to evolve

Atul Chandra

Missile major MBDA is now ready for service entry with the Meteor very long range Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), starting from next year. Known internally in MBDA as the ‘game changer’, the Meteor is already in full scale production and will be fully integrated on the Rafale as part of the F3-R upgrade planned for the type by mid-2018.

Boeing & Saab have come together to develop the revolutionary Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB)
Boeing & Saab have come together to develop the revolutionary Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB)

A rigorous evaluation process with six participating European air forces has now been completed and it will offer customers a weapon that dominates the air battle-space. The long range BVRAAM comes with a sophisticated seeker and powered by a unique throttleable ramjet motor designed, developed and qualified by Bayern-Chemie that generates propulsive power all the way to target intercept, providing the largest ‘No-Escape-Zone’ of any air-to-air missile system.

The Meteor is surprisingly compact for a missile with such long range and is smaller than the Super 530-D BVRAAM. Once launched from the rail, the primary rocket motor provides the initial boost phase, once the necessary acceleration has been achieved, the missile turns to ramjet power. As a result of being the only throttleable ramjet powered missile, it is able to sustain energy till the time of target impact. The Meteor is a large, heavy and expensive missile and in any case will be procured only in limited numbers. With the presence of Meteor in an air forces inventory will considerably complicate the plans of any adversary.

Shown for the first time at the Paris Air Show in June 2015 was the new Rafael Advanced Defence Systems I-Derby Extended Range (ER) long range Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM). Range is almost doubled to 100 km as compared to 60 plus km for the I-Derby, though actual engagement ranges could be much lesser. The I-Derby ER, however, will exhibit significantly improved kinematic performance across its envelope as a result of its new dual pulse rocket motors, with a primary pulse provided on launch and a secondary pulse delivered as the engagement nears the end-game.

The new missile also features an all new solid state seeker and improved resistance to countermeasures and has Lock on After Launch (LOAL) and Lock on Before Launch (LOBL) ability in all-weather conditions. Rafael’s I-Derby is already operational in India on the Sea-Harriers, and has offered for the LCA Tejas and the ER version can also be used on the Spyder Air Defence system. The I-Derby ER has been offered to India and is a likely candidate for the Tejas Mk1 and Mk2.

A potent short-range Infra-Red (IR) guided missile is the Python-5 which offers an Off-Boresight capability of greater than 90 degrees as compared to 60 degrees on the R-73. The Python 5 offers both LOBL & LOAL capability compared to the R-73 which only offers LOBL capability. It also offers Improved IRCCM capabilities as a result of its dual-band Imaging Infra-Red seeker. Rafael has developed and fielded five generations of short range air-to-air missiles and two generations of medium range BVRAAMs, which have taken part in three high intensity conflicts and shot down more than 140 enemy aircraft (fighters, helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

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