Air-Launched Weapons

Diehl develops air-to-surface capability for IRIS-T AAM

16 December 2016
A RNoAF F-16AM prepares to fire an air-to-surface variant of the Diehl BGT Defence IRIS-T AAM over Norway in September 2016. Source: Diehl BGT Defence

Key Points

  • Upgraded software insertion is the only requirement for the IRIS-T air-to-surface solution
  • No further air-to-surface trials currently planned with F-16 or other platforms

The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) has tested a new air-to-surface capability developed by Diehl BGT Defence for the IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile (AAM).

A proof of concept test firing to acquire, track, and engage a target representing a small fast attack boat was conducted in Norway in September 2016, where the IRIS-T missile was launched from an RNoAF F-16AM multirole aircraft.

The IRIS-T AAM was developed through a six-nation industrial consortium, led by Diehl BGT Defence of Germany. Series delivery of the missile to the programme nations - Germany Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and Spain - started in December 2005. Since then, Austria, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand have also acquired the IRIS-T AAM. The missile is cleared for carriage with the AMX International AMX, Boeing F/A-18, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, Panavia Tornado, and Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

Conceived as a replacement for the legacy AIM-9 Sidewinder variants, the IRIS-T AAM is an agile short-range, all aspect imaging infrared (IIR) homing missile powered by a Nammo solid propellant motor. Similar in size and centre of gravity to the AIM-9L/M Sidewinder, IRIS-T is some 2.94 m in length, 127 mm in diameter, with a flight control surfaces span (wing) of 350 mm, and a total weight of 89 kg. Equipped with an 11.4 kg high-explosive (HE) (fragmentation) warhead fitted with a radar-assisted proximity fuze, the missile features with lock-on before launch (LOBL) and lock-on after launch (LOAL) capabilities for target engagement at ranges out to 13.5 n miles (25 km).

For the air-to-surface role, the missile retains the same standard IRIS-T AAM hardware configuration, including the HE warhead and IIR guidance package, with only an updated software insertion required to deliver the additional ground attack capability, a company spokesperson told IHS Jane's .

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