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       the contending missiles

                                                                                                       Diehl BGT’s short range IRIS-T AAM.

        very major purchase of modern         Derby and Diehl BGT IRIS-T as they may          subsequently scored more victories over
        military aircraft is accompanied      well be included in the package of the          the skies of Iraq, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
        by purchase of associated missile     selected M-MRCA. This author would              The operational reliability of AMRAAM
armoury and the Indian Air Force’s            loved to have included next-generation          is measured in thousands of hours, with
requirement for Medium-Multi Role             Russian AAMs namely RVV-SD and                  Mean-Time-Between-Failure (MTBF)
Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) is no                RVV-MD in the list, however as reports          rates in excess of 1,500-hours of operation.
exception. Air-to-Air Missile (AAM)           of their developments are sparse it will        With state-of-the-art Active Radar.
technology defines the depth of the air       perhaps be premature to analyse them            Homing (ARH) guidance, AMRAAM
battle. “Whoever has the longest reach        under present circumstances.                    packs unprecedented performance into
controls the engagement,” comments                                                            a lightweight (the AIM-120C-7 weighs
fighter analyst Ben Lambeth of the Rand       Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM                         only 161.5-kg with 20.5-kg warhead)
Corporation. In the IAF’s case not only       “With AIM-120 Advanced Medium                   package. Incorporation of the latest digital
do Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air             Range Air-to-Air Missile or AMRAAM              technology and microminiaturised solid-
Missiles (BVRAAM) remain a key                in flight air superiority is soon to follow”,   state electronics makes the weapon more
requirement but close combat missiles         was proudly stated in a Raytheon media          reliable and maintainable, resulting in the
are obligatory because of proximity of        clip approved for public release (refer         highest dependability at the lowest cost of
potentially hostile air bases nearby, just    “Customer Success is Our Mission”               ownership throughout the intended service
across the international border. To add       RSAS MS 6/06 4108697). Of aerospace             life of the missile.
to the complication, the threat of cruise     giants competing for the M-MRCA, the                 Capable of all-weather day and night
and ballistic missiles (technology shared     American entities are in a privileged           performance and multi-shot capability,
by adversary nations in direct violation      position to offer combat proven (a              the AMRAAM offers unprecedented
of Missile Technology Control Regime          significant factor) aircraft and associated     air combat flexibility. In Beyond Visual
restrictions) demand missiles capable of      missiles. Combat proven Beyond Visual           Range (BVR) engagements, AMRAAM
intercepting the hostile projectiles either   Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM)               is guided initially by its inertial reference
from the ground or from the air.              AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range                   unit and microcomputer. During the
    The following assessment takes a          Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) was                 midcourse phase of flight AMRAAM
“look” at various AAMs which includes         used for the first time on 27 December          receives target position updates directly
the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM,                  1992, when a United States Air Force            from the launch radar system. However,
Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder, MBDA              F-16D shot down an Iraqi MiG-25 that            in the terminal phase of flight, without
Meteor and MICA, Rafael Python, Rafael        violated the southern ‘no-fly-zone’, and        further reliance on the launching aircraft,

62                                                               VAYU
the internal ARH seeker acquires the target     head-on engagement and incorporates          place of a proximity-fused warhead, the
and independently guides the missile to         improved fusing through a new quadrant       NCADE will use a kinetic energy hit-to-
the target. The last mentioned autonomous       target-detection device. The ‘set-piece      kill vehicle based on the one used in USN
guidance capability provides the pilot with     moves’ of the USAF and United States         RIM-161 Standard 3. AMRAAM is slated
critical range - preserving launch and leave    Navy fighters are to approach a wave         to serve with the USAF, the USN, and
capability substantially improving overall      of cruise missiles head-on, get in a first   the United States Marine Corps (USMC)
survivability by allowing immediate             shot and then turn for a second and          until at least 2020 when the Joint Dual
manoeuvre following missile launch, faster      third shot from behind. The follow-on        Role Air Dominance Missile (JDRADM)
engagement of follow-on targets, as well        AIM-120C-7 (P3I Phase 3) incorporates        would potentially enter service. AIM-120
as the option to maximise his separation        improved ECCM w i t h j a m m i n g          AMRAAM remains operational on the
from the original engaged threat. The                                    detection, an       F-22 Raptor, F-15, F-16, F/A-18,
missile is further blessed with critical                                                     Eurofighter Typhoon, the German F-4F,
attributes including quick fly out, robust                                                            the Royal Navy (RN) Sea Harrier,
Electronic Counter Counter Measures                                                                                  Tornado, Harrier
(ECCM) and improved capability while                                                                                     II Plus, the
attacking low-altitude targets against the                                                                                   JAS-39
background of ground ‘clutter’. The low
smoke, high-impulse advanced solid-             upgraded seeker
fuel rocket motor effectively reduces           and longer range.                                     Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM.
visual signature of the missile to catch            The AIM-120D is an upgraded version
the adversary pilot by surprise prior his       of the AMRAAM with improvements in           Gripen, and the Norwegian Advanced
aerial platform’s destruction. The missile      almost all areas, including 50-percent       Surface-to-Air Missile System
also features the ability to ‘Home on           greater range over AIM-120C-7 and better     (NASAMS). Raytheon is currently
Jamming,’ giving it the ability to switch       guidance over its entire flight envelope,    integrating AMRAAM on the F-35
over from ARH to passive homing on              yielding an improved kill probability        Lightning II and AMRAAM is likely to
jamming signals from the target aircraft.       (PK). On 5 August, 2008, the company         enter IAF service if India selects Boeing
At short ranges (minimum range is said          reported that an AIM-120D launched from      F/A-18IN Super Hornet or F-16IN Super
to be in the region of 2-km) the missile is     a two-seater F/A-18F Super Hornet passed     Viper as the M-MRCA of choice. As
launched in ARH mode from the outset,           within lethal distance of a QF-4 target      apparent AMRAAM has set the global
requiring no further assistance from the        drone at the White Sands Missile Range,      BVRAAM standard and with more
armed aircraft.                                 and has now entered full production at       than thirty-three countries procuring the
     Specific variants are developed for        Raytheon’s Tucson, Arizona, facility.        missile, “AMRAAM has attained a level
cruise and ballistic missile interception       Important from India’s point of view         of international procurement that enriches
well behind enemy lines in combination          and key requirement, Raytheon is also        interoperability, ensures commonality, and
of suitable Airborne Early Warning &            working with the Missile Defence Agency      improves overall logistic support which
Control (AEW&C) platforms, thereby              to develop the Network Centric Airborne      ensures effective coalition operations.”
partially at least eliminating a threat that    Defense Element (NCADE), an Anti-
has emerged in disturbing proportions           Ballistic Missile (ABM) derived from         Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder
because of rampant violation of Missile         the AIM-120. This weapon will be             Close-combat effectiveness and punch is
Technology Control Regime (MTCR)                equipped with a Ramjet engine and an         provided by the incorporation of Boeing–
restrictions by the China-Pakistan-North        Infra Red (IR) seeker derived from the       developed Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing
Korea axis. In United States Navy (USN)         Sidewinder close-combat missile. In          System (JHMCS) and Infra Red (IR)
and USAF service F/A-18E/F fleets
operating alongside F-22 Raptor and F-35
Lightning II fleets at medium altitudes
around 25,000-30,000-ft “at different
layers”, are projected to operate in an
extended picket line to track cruise missiles
from a beam aspect where cruise missiles
are susceptible to detection because of
their lack of “positional stealth” from
that aspect. The primary weapon under
such circumstances is a specific variant
AIM-120C AMRAAM, the AIM-120C-6
BVRAAM with an improved seeker
and an updated TDD (Target Detection
Device) to optimise the explosive cone
of destruction for small, slow targets in        Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder.

                                                                 V/2010                                                              63
guided Raytheon AIM-9X next generation                combat missile and potential exists for         Ram-rocket (VFDR) propulsion system
Sidewinder close-combat missile, which                procurement by numerous other coalition         also referred to as Throttle-able Ducted
retains the same rocket motor, fuse and               nations. Like the AMRAAM, AIM-9X                Rocket (TDR), along with a speed of more
warhead of the AIM-9M, but with lower                 Sidewinder is likely to enter IAF service       than Mach 4 and high terminal velocity.
drag has improved range and speed.                    if India selects the Boeing F/A-18IN            Thus even when launched from extreme
Developed as a counter to both the Russian            Super Hornet or F-16IN Super Viper as           stand-off ranges, the missile will retain
R-73 close-combat missile and improved                the M-MRCA.                                     the energy in the end game to defeat fast,
Infra Red Counter Measures (IRCM)                                                                     manoeuvring targets. The control system
features, this next-generation Sidewinder             MBDA Meteor                                     consists of four small moving tail surfaces
missile passed operational evaluation in              MBDA’s Meteor BVRAAM provides an                but at inherently high speed sufficient to
November 2003 and was approved for full-              ultra-long range interception capability        perform sharp manoeuvres. The engine’s
rate production in May 2004.The AIM-9X                against fighter-sized targets, critical in      two air intakes, positioned on the both
uses an extremely agile thrust-vector                 attaining “first look-first shoot-first kill”   sides of the lower part of the missile’s
controlled airframe along with a mature               capability alongside fulfilling the BVR         body, are shaped to reduce the missile’s
staring Focal Plane Array (FPA) sensor                role for “outer-air battles”, increasingly      radar cross-section.
to facilitate extremely high off-boresight            necessary for the IAF in response                    The need for controlled airflow
acquisition and launch envelopes, greatly             to proliferation of BVRAAMs in its              (by the missile’s electronics) to the
enhanced manoeuvrability and improved                 ‘neighbourhood’ including United States         ramjet ducts ruled out the ‘skid-to-turn’
target acquisition ranges (in clear sky               AIM-120C-5 variant of the AMRAAM                manoeuvring of a conventional rocket-
or clutter) to provide a “first shot/first            in Pakistan Air Force (PAF) service. A          powered missile, as it will risk masking
kill” advantage. For future enhanceme                 stealthy, low drag, lightweight (160-kg+)       an intake and, instead, ‘bank-to-turn’
nts, the digital design architecture of               BVRAAM design from the MBDA stable,             manoeuvring is adopted. The Meteor
the missile provides inherent growth                  the 80+ nautical miles ranged Meteor with       is capable of engaging wide range of
capability. The missile also features high            a more linear velocity profile is presently     airborne targets autonomously, including
resistance to IR countermeasures, thanks              undergoing integration phase with the           cruise missiles with less than 1-metre
to its reprogrammable Infra Red Counter               Gripen. Born out of the multi-national          square Radar Cross Section (RCS). For
Counter Measures (IRCCM) capability.                  Project S225X examining the future              mid-course navigation guidance Meteor
The AIM-9X can be employed in both                    BVRAAM technologies and designed                utilises Inertial Navigation System (INS)
Near Beyond Visual Range (NBVR) and                   for a network-centric warfare (NCW)             combined with update commands provided
close combat arenas. In addition to the               environment, the Meteor has a data-link         by the launch, or any friendly aircraft via
F/A-18C/D and the F-15C, AIM-9X will                  capability to be guided not only by the         the two way secure microwave data-link,
be integrated on the USN F/A-18E/F and                launching aircraft but also by another          to adequately offset Identification Friend
the USAF F-15E, F-16, F-35, and the F-22              fighter or even by Airborne Early Warning       or Foe (IFF) complexities or challenges
during ‘Follow-on Test and Evaluation’.               & Control (AEW&C) platforms. The                at long ranges. During the terminal phase
In addition several nations have already              extended range is ensured by Meteor’s           the Ku-band (NATO: X band) active-
selected AIM-9X as their next close-                  solid boron fuelled Variable-Flow Ducted        radar homing seeker (advanced version
                                                                                                                 of the MICA RF ‘4A’) employs
                                                                                                                 advanced proportional based
                                                                                                                 navigation software (rumours
                                                                                                                 persist that the system can
                                                                                                                 operate passively in the K-band
                                                                                                                 given the consortium’s previous
                                                                                                                 research interests). The seeker
                                                                                                                 is said to be more resistant to
                                                                                                                 electromagnetic jamming and
                                                                                                                 operates in stealthier mode
                                                                                                                 than do seekers of the MICA
                                                                                                                 RF and Aster. To ensure total
                                                                                                                 target destruction, the missile
                                                                                                                 is equipped with a combination
                                                                                                                 of SAAB Dynamics laser
                                                                                                                 proximity and impact fuses and
                                                                                                                 a fragmentation warhead that is
                                                                                                                 detonated at the optimum point
                                                                                                                 to maximise lethality.
                                                                                                                     As Meteor is designed for a
                                                                                                                 NCW environment, it is suitable
     The “game changer”: MBDA’s Meteor with Gripen.
                                                                                                                 for the futuristic concept of

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‘Cooperative Fighter Operations’ or            in the long run. Meteor incidentally           designated by the host aircraft’s radar, it
Mixed Fighter Force Concept (MFFC) that        represents the primary BVRAAM of three         makes the first phase of its fight in inertial
is essential for future BVR engagements        M-MRCA competitors, being the                  guidance mode, and then latches onto the
and optimum performance and results.           Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale           target in flight in fire and forget mode using
Conceptually in IAF service, pairs of          and Saab Gripen.                               its “4A” active-radar homing head. MICA
Sukhoi Su-30MKIs will be data-linked;                                                         remains well reputed for its general level
as one illuminates the other launches          MBDA MICA                                      of sophistication and reliability in terms of
the missiles against the targets. In such      The MICA BVRAAM forms the standard             “kill percentage” even in European adverse
engagements the ‘striker’ fighter will be      armament of Dassault’s Rafale and is           meteorological conditions alongside dense
able to impart the greatest kinetic energy     also presently selected for upgradation        electronic warfare environment infested
to the Meteor BVRAAM by accelerating           package of the IAF’s Mirage 2000H/TH           with saturation jamming as the missiles in
up to Mach 2 and then manoeuvring out          fighters. MICA was originally designed as      turn embeds a formidable ECCM system
of the engagement. The illuminator with        a ‘multi-aircraft’ missile that could easily   to burn through hostile jamming.
its powerful radar capable of performing       be integrated onto any modern fighter               Excellent manoeuvrability is
like a mini-AEW&C would remain firmly          aircraft, without significantly reducing       aided by combination of long chord
subsonic keeping a decent distance from        the aircraft’s speed or negatively affecting   wings, efficient tail control surfaces
the target, and providing either command-      its aerodynamic characteristics. MICA is       while at short range Thrust Vector
guidance updates alongside illuminating        capable of both BVR (60km+) and close          Control (TVC) facilitates High Off-
the target. Since Meteor represents a          range interception thanks to dual active       Boresight Angle (HOBA) engagements.
six-nation project, back during Aero           radar (as in MICA RF) and Imaging Infra        Interestingly the MICA IR seeker may
India 2007 MBDA officials withheld             Red (as in MICA IR) seeker and Lock On         also be utilised for discrete optronics
any formal comment on its possible             Before Launch (LOBL) as well as Lock           monitoring prior launch. Again MICA
integration with IAF Sukhoi Su-30 MKI          On After Launch (LOAL) capability.             IR with its excellent angular resolution
fighters, yet there were sufficient hints to        Carried under the aircraft fuselage       will be able to mount stealthy strikes at
this Vayu correspondent by senior MBDA         or under wings and fired by ejection or        unsuspecting opponents especially if the
officials that integration is very much        rail-launched MICA is “permitted” to be        launch platform gets well pre-positioned
possible in response to formal request         ejected from the airframe points up to 4g      by friendly AEW&C platforms like the
by the Indian Government and IAF. As           while wings pylons can release MICA up         IAF’s A-50EI PHALCON (PHased
apparent, the Meteor BVRAAM will assist        to 9g. Products of research & development      Array L-band CONformal) aircraft the
the IAF Sukhoi Su-30MKI fleet to reach         during 1990s and after, both MICA RF           lethal warhead being triggered by a
its full combat potential in BVRAAM            and MICA IR have a range in excess of          Doppler radar proximity fuse. Surprise
combat scenarios that may prove critical       60km, the MICA IR version receives mid-        had always been the key to successful
in any confrontation with the Chinese          course update commands from the radar to       execution in air combat, with as much
Peoples Liberation Army-Air Force              compare the target location with that of its   as 50-percent of the shot down pilots
(PLA-AF) especially at the opening stages      seeker’s track for LOAL engagements. In        totally unaware of the fact that they were
of conflict and may well prove decisive        case of MICA RF after the target has been      even under attack!

                                                                                                      Rafael Python 5
                                                                                                      Like India, Israel is surrounded
                                                                                                      by hostile neighbouring nations
                                                                                                      and thus its air force has
                                                                                                      always put strong emphasis in
                                                                                                      close-combat, air-to-air since the
                                                                                                      adversary air bases are located
                                                                                                      nearby which makes close-combat
                                                                                                      scenarios a certainty. IDF-AF
                                                                                                      combat record registers more
                                                                                                      than 95-percent ‘kills’ with close-
                                                                                                      combat missiles and have emerged
                                                                                                      as masters of within visual range
                                                                                                      close-combat in numerous Arab–
                                                                                                      Israeli air wars during the second
                                                                                                      half of the past century with
                                                                                                      combat experience and expertise
                                                                                                      second to none. This impressive
                                                                                                      attribute is effectively backed by a
                                                                                                      highly sophisticated and rigorous
  MBDA MICA underwing the Rafale M.
                                                                                                      training schedule of extensive

                                                                 V/2010                                                                   65
                                                                                                                      Rafael Python 5.

flight-hours alongside a firm respect for       and AEW&C platforms and other                 with the ability to look 90-degrees off-
the adversary’s Russian MiG designs             enhancements were apparent during             boresight with a lateral squint capability
without any room for complacency, thus          the war between Israel and Syria over         and a high tracking rate thanks to digital
consistently maintaining a favourable           the Beka’a Valley in 1982, when the           signal processing techniques in the
high kill-to-loss ratio. In addition surprise   Israelis mercilessly decimated the            seeker, as well as a microprocessor-based
was the key Israeli element during these        Syrian Air Force with their excellent         digital flight control system. Powerful
encounters with classic slashing attacks        battle management system exemplifying         6-inch diameter rocket motor endow it
out from behind a cloud or ‘out of sun’         a “classic exploitation of AEW&C              more impulse to get through the energy
into a firing pass leaving very little          asymmetry”. The IDF-AF, as per their          sapping manoeuvres of a HOBA launch,
duration or room for the adversary to           claim, destroyed 92 Syrian aircraft           with enough speed remaining for good
react.                                          including 36 MiG-23s armed with potent        kill distance.
    Ancestry of the Python 5 Near               R-23 (AA-7 Apex) BVRAAM without                    The Python 4 thrust is initially low
Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile          conceding a single loss. Israeli pilot Amir   to let the missile turn large angles at
(NBVRAAM) can be traced back to                 Nahumi became the first F-16 ace with six     relatively slow speed before accelerating
development of the all-aspect Python 3          more victories after having opened his        for the chase. The long burn motor has a
close-combat missiles. Introduction of          “account” in 1981. Python 3 incidentally      tailored thrust profile to achieve optimal
Python 3 during the later half of the 1970s     was credited with over 50 Syrian aircraft     acceleration for close-in engagements and
coincided with the extensive transformation     kills during the Beka’a Valley campaign       high energy for terminal phase homing or
of the IDF-AF with F-15s entering service       albeit in its pre-production rounds form.     end game engagement. The intent of the
in 1976 to be followed by F-16s in 1980 and         As newer generation of Russian MiG-       designers was to produce a missile which
importantly the E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C              29 fighters with Helmet Mounted Sight         can not only be launched from a wider
platforms prompting swift development           (HMS) slaved with R-73 (AA-11 Archer)         range of angles than earlier missiles, but
of new tactics and operational procedures.      missiles with considerable off-boresight      which can also maintain track on a highly
Python 3 with large delta canard controls       capability were transferred to Syria          manoeuvrable high-g target engaged
had a slightly tapered body housing an          during mid 1980s, the Israelis identified     during the merge or opening phase of
Infra-Red (IR) seeker cell of exceptional       the threat seriously and embarked on fast     an engagement. A passing target on a
sensitivity and wider look-angle in relation    development of the Python 4 mated with        reciprocal heading can be engaged in
to contemporary technology. This had            third generation Display & Sight Helmet       most of the forward hemisphere. If the
a plus or minus 30-degree gimbal angle          (DASH) intended to catch up, if not           Python still fails its first opportunity to
operable in boresight, uncaged, or radar-       exceed, the specified parameters. Python      hit, track will be maintained on the target
slaved mode. The missile was regarded           4 was in operational service by 1994 and      to continue a tail chase geometry pursuit,
superior in most aspects to contemporary        with numerous canard control surfaces and     running down the target for a tail-aspect
models such as AIM-9L Sidewinder in             destabilisers was designed around an IDF-     impact.
terms of speed (Mach 3.5), turning radius       AF philosophy of a visual identification           Effectively mated with the Elbit-
and range (up to 15-km).                        pass coupled with a close-in High Off-        developed third generation DASH HMS
    The conventional rod-type high-             Boresight Angle (HOBA) capability             for optimum performance and lethality,
explosive warhead weighs 11-kg. The             missile. Python 4 has an all-aspect           Python 4 can be launched at a range of
effect of newer generation fighters             gimballed multiple detector array seeker      over 15-km. The missile employs a blast

66                                                                VAYU

 V/2010   67
fragmentation 11-kg warhead, which is         With a speed of Mach 4 and 20-km range,       targets. Like the Python 4, the fuselage
triggered by an active laser proximity        360-degrees performance is facilitated        of Python 5 consists of dual canards
fuse with a backup impact fuse. It was no     by Lock-On After Launch (LOAL)                and rear fins with an improved motor.
surprise that in the year 2000 when United    capability, to deal with rear hemisphere      It also incorporates advanced computer
States Marine Corps (USMC) F/A-18             threats. More importantly the missile         architecture, inertial navigation system,
Hornets from Balkans theatre armed            seeker uses staring Focal Plane Array         IRCCM and flight-control algorithms
with then standard models of AIM-9            (FPA) seeker technology that was first        and is designed to strike against the most
Sidewinder engaged in mock air combats        introduced in the United States AIM-9X        critical and vulnerable areas of its target
with IDF-AF fighters armed with Python 3      Sidewinder that has inherently better         to ensure destruction. The Python 5
and Python 4 missiles in conjunction with     Infra-Red Counter Counter Measures            NBVRAAM achieved operational status
DASH helmet mounted sight, they were          (IRCCM) and is readily programmable           under wings of the F-16I Soufa (Storm) in
“handled roughly”, the IDF-AF reportedly      for ever expanding IRCCM techniques.          addition to AIM-120 AMRAAM. The first
prevailing in 220 out of 240 engagements.     This particular staring focal plane array     unit, the Negev Squadron, was reformed
Interestingly, Python 4 is rumoured to        technology provides greater ability to        at Ramon on 27 July 2003 to operate the
be in service with the IAF for some time      reject flares and other countermeasures       two-seat example developed on basis of
yet never officially confirmed and it may     while the extended range with LOAL            the F-16ES (Enhanced Strategic) long-
be speculated that these are test batches     mode gives it an added NBVR capability        range interdictor.
to secure major follow-on orders for the      to its inherent close-combat attributes.
new Python 5.                                      Additionally, the dual-wavelength,       Rafael Derby
    The intent of IDF-AF to retain            focal plane array-imaging seeker is able to   The IDF-AF well realised the value and
ascendancy with close-combat missiles         acquire low-signature targets even in look-   operational flexibility of BVRAAM long
is well reflected in their fifth-generation   down mode, against adverse backgrounds        back as it was repeatedly frustrated by
Python 5, promising performance in the        and cloudy environment and possibly has       high-altitude over flights by MiG-25
extreme corners of the flight envelope.       discriminatory capability against multiple    (Foxbat-B) reconnaissance models

                                                                                               Israel Air Force Rafael Derby BVRAAMs.

68                                                              VAYU
of the Soviet Expeditionary Force           seeker is activated at appropriate distance     nation. The mass, length, diameter and
between October 1971 and March              to home in on the target with substantial       interface of the IRIS-T missile are very
1972. Soviet MiG-25Rs, based at             kinematics performance allowing ‘end            close to its predecessor, achieving a high
Cairo, covered the Israeli-held coastline   game’ manoeuvrability thanks to the             degree of compatibility which is a must
Haifa to Port Said and flew the length      slightly enhanced rocket motor.                 for the IRIS-T programme. The missile
of Sinai Peninsula involving 500-km             For greater accuracy over extended          combines a solid-propellant rocket motor
penetration of Israeli airspace. With a     ranges, the ‘Derby Uplink’ capability           which utilises a smokeless propellant
speed of Mach 2.5 to 2.8 at a cruising      allows targeting data to be transmitted         arranged in a star-shaped formation within
altitude of 80,000-ft they successfully     from the launch aircraft to provide accurate    the combustion chamber (this section
evaded formidable Israeli defences          mid-course guidance while dealing with          also provides the attachment point for
including F-4 Phantoms thus gathering       fast-moving or manoeuvring targets. The         four wings providing additional lift) with
valuable “real time” intelligence and       missile also has the ability to receive data-   advanced aerodynamics and Thrust Vector
transmitting them to ground-stations        link updates from other platforms besides       Control (TVC) in a tail-controlled airframe
through secure data-links for further       the launch aircraft thereby permitting          to achieve “outstanding performance.”
analysis. Counter IDF-AF BVR tactics        ‘stealthy’ engagements. According to            The TVC nozzle that provides for flight
underwent development and during            Rafael, the “multi-shot capable” Derby          control utilises four vanes placed within
June 1982, two Syrian MiG-25s were          has a launch-range in excess of 63km            the exhaust. By directly controlling
destroyed by the IDF-AF with carefully      if launched at Mach 0.9 at 25,000-ft            the position of these the thrust can be
planned and executed “snap up” attack       against a head-on target, although its          vectored in any required direction pro!
by the F-15 fighter/AIM-7 Sparrow           maximum range, or its effective seeker          viding a large increase in achievable
BVRAAM combination emphasising              range, remains highly classified. During        manoeuvrability, with turns possible in
growing maturity of the BVR tactics and     Aero India 2007 on being suggested so           excess of 50 g.
procedures of the IDF-AF pilots. For the    by this Vayu correspondent on aspects               IRIS-T features a BGT (Bodenseewerk
first time the formidable high-altitude     of Derby’s maximum range, top Rafael            Geratecknik)-designed scanning imaging
MiG-25 interceptor, hitherto regarded as    officials along with their aides burst into     Indium-Antimonide infra-red sensor
                                            laughter which intended to retain the veil      roll-pitch seeker (128x128 pixels) with
“untouchable” the was shot down.
                                            of secrecy by reaffirming it as “a mystery”.    90-degrees look angle (combined with
     Although subsequently, the IDF-AF
                                            Derby also has a very low minimum range         digital signal processing) for high off-
acquired an active-radar homing
                                            and an option for Lock-On Before Launch         boresight angle missile engagements.
BVRAAM in shape of the United States
                                            (LOBL) mode thus also capable of being          Engagements against targets in the rear
Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM, Israeli
                                            employed for short-range engagements            hemisphere can be done successfully
desire to retain full control of BVRAAM
                                            with Derby’s seeker slaved to the aircraft’s    with the missile’s Lock-On After Launch
technology especially in relation to
                                            radar or the pilot’s helmet mounted cueing      (LOAL). Overall, IRIS-T delivers
Electronic Counter Counter Measures
                                            system. During short range engagements,         increased agility, target acquisition range,
(ECCM) modes led to development of
                                            Derby’s capabilities are regarded as            hit accuracy, a more effective dual-layer
indigenous Derby BVRAAM developed
                                            similar to the Python 3 close-combat            High Explosive (HE) fragmentation
by Rafael’s Missile Division. The 118-kg
                                            missile trapping enemy aircraft in the          warhead and considerably improved
active-radar homing BVRAAM shares
                                            “killing fields” 60km inwards. Subject          protection against countermeasures
design commonality with Python 4
                                            to assistance from Original Equipment           compared with the AIM-9L/M models
(including warhead and proximity fuse
                                            Manufacturers (OEM) the combination             of Sidewinder missile. An active radar
and even sharing same launcher) with
                                            of Python 5 and Derby can be integrated         based fuse provides both range and range-
the addition of mid-body wings while its
                                            on all M-MRCA contenders. Reportedly            rate information allowing the missile to
own ‘no escape zone’ overlaps that of the
                                            the Python 5 and Derby are also set to arm      detonate its warhead at a pre-determined
Python 4. The Derby is fitted with an ARH
                                            squadrons of India’s own Light Combat           distance from the target. During the flight
seeker with a compact gimballed antenna,
                                            Aircraft (LCA) Tejas prior to availability      tests, the IRIS-T achieved direct impact on
developed by Israeli Aircraft Industries’
                                            of the indigenous Astra BVRAAM. In              the target even with IRCM presence.
MBT Division. Derby has Look-Down/
                                            fact, the Derby BVRAAM already arms                 The highly manoeuverable IRIS-T
Shoot-Down capability and advanced
programmable and adaptable ECCM to          the Indian Navy’s Sea Harriers to provide       missile will be integrated onto Eurofighter
operate under dense electronic warfare      a combination of both BVR and close-            Typhoon, Gripen, F-16, Tornado, and F/A-
environments and is reconfigurable          combat capability.                              18 fighters. In October 2003, Spain joined
with the emergence of new threats.                                                          the IRIS-T programme ordering 700
For BVR engagements, a LOAL mode            Diehl BGT IRIS-T                                missiles to be integrated with the Spanish
is adopted in which the missile initi!      Highly agile, the IRIS-T (Infra Red             Air Force Typhoon and F/A-18 fighter
ally fired using cues from the launch       Imagery Sidewinder Tail-controlled) is          aircraft. Overall, the IRIS-T programme
aircraft’s fire control radar, or perhaps   an international initiative to replace the      represents around 4,000 missiles for the
an Infra-Red Search & Track (IRST)          current AIM-9L/M Sidewinder CCM.                armed forces of Germany, Greece, Italy,
system employing inertial guidance          Diehl BGT is the prime contractor for           Norway, Spain and Sweden.
immediately after launch until the ARH      the programme and Germany is the lead                                    Sayan Majumdar

                                                              V/2010                                                                  69

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