Being shown at IDEX for the first time is an innovative new weapons carrier from the UK’s Cobham (Stand 06-A23), writes Jon Lake. The carrier, known colloquially as the ‘Cobham launcher’, is being carried on the inboard underwing stations of the Eurofighter Typhoon Full Scale Replica in the outdoor exhibition area. It allows carriage of a pair of Paveway IV dual-mode laser/GPS-guided bombs, mounted side by side, or could optionally accommodate three rail-launched MBDA Brimstone missiles, or three of the new MBDA SPEAR 3 weapons.
SPEAR 3 is a winged, turbojet-engined precision-guided munition that is derived from the dual-mode Brimstone, and featuring autonomous fire-and-forget capabilities, or with a Fully Network Enabled mode for inflight retargeting. Unlike Brimstone, which is rail-launched, SPEAR 3 will simply drop off the pylon, rolling erect before lighting up the engine and deploying its wings.
BAE Systems is already looking at incorporating the Cobham launcher on the Typhoon, taking advantage of work on the initial Brimstone integration being carried out for the Phase 3 Enhancement that was announced and signed here at IDEX.
Wing Commander Anthony ‘Foxy’ Gregory of BAE Systems explained to the IDEX Show Daily that the work on P3E necessitated ‘opening’ the flight control system software, which gave an excellent opportunity to work on the Cobham launcher at the same time.
However, the Cobham launcher is platform-agnostic, and offers a rapidly reconfigurable twin- or triple-carrier for a range of dropped and rail-launched weapons on a wide variety of aircraft types. This could include the BAE Hawk, which is being considered by the Indian Air Force to fulfil a light ground attack requirement. India is already a Hawk user, and recently used the opportunity presented by the acceptance of its 75th Hawk to announce its interest in acquiring 60 additional Hawks to augment front-line squadrons, probably equipping four new light ground attack squadrons that would operate alongside existing Jaguar and MiG-27 units.