MBDA is to introduce a new unpowered, stand-off air-launched munition capability to its air-to-surface guided weapons portfolio, through the development of what the company describes as a "family of all-up-round glide weapons" with the designation 'SmartGlider'.
Optimised as a fast-jet-launched munition for penetrative munitions, the new generation of SmartGlider weapons is designed to "counter new, networked short- and medium-range surface-to-air threats as well as moving/relocatable targets or hardened fixed targets... and other emerging battlespace threats" with significant lethal effects, according to MBDA.
Currently in the design phase, the presently envisaged SmartGlider family concept provides for two variants: SmartGlider Light, a compact general-purpose munition; and the larger SmartGlider Heavy, which is designed to deal with large and hardened infrastructure targets.
SmartGlider Light is two metres in length and weighs 120 kg - including an 80 kg warhead - and features a cruciform aft actuator assembly, and fold-out mid-body glide wings to deliver the munition to ranges in excess of 100 km from a launch altitude of 40,000 ft. SmartGlider Light, like Spear (MBDA's 100 kg, network-enabled, powered stand-off air-to-surface munition), inverts after release, opening the mid-body wing section to begin its engagement flight.
Although outwardly similar in appearance to Spear, SmartGlider Light is a completely different weapon and starts from a separate development standpoint, Francois Moussez, military adviser at MBDA told Jane's : "Spear was designed to the weight and size constraints of the F-35B weapons bay, and to work with the wide spectrum of sensors on that platform to engage mobile and fixed targets in hostile and complex environments.
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