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M-MRCA:

the contending missiles

Diehl BGT’s short range IRIS-T AAM.

E
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
Diehl

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