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Lockheed Martin-led team unveils new Falcon mobile air defence solution

20 February 2019
The Falcon Weapon System comprises (left to right) the Saab Giraffe 4A multifunction radar, the Lockheed Martin SkyKeeper battle management system, and the Diehl Defence IRIS-T-SLM effector and launcher. Source: Lockheed Martin

A collaborative industry team led by Lockheed Martin unveiled a new mobile open architecture short-to-medium range air defence solution - designated the Falcon Weapon System - at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi on 18 February.

According to the team, Falcon is intended to address "a critical gap in short- and medium-range ground-based air defence" to defeat "current and emerging threats", including weaponised unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), cruise missiles, and fixed- and rotary-wing platforms capable of delivering ordnance at extended ranges.

Developed with internal company investment funding, Falcon is the initial product of an earlier teaming agreement between Lockheed Martin, Saab, and Diehl Defence in 2016. Falcon combines the Diehl Defence IRIS-T-SLM (InfraRed Imaging System - Tail/Thrust Vector Controlled-Surface-Launched, Medium range) interceptor and 360º vertical launcher system and the Saab Surveillance Giraffe 4A active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with Lockheed Martin's SkyKeeper command-and-control (C2) battle management system.

The Falcon system is being offered, in the first instance, as a significant capability upgrade to meet a UAE requirement to replace its legacy Raytheon-developed MIM-23 Hawk medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. "We are currently in discussions to offer our solution to the UAE customer," Scott Arnold, vice-president and deputy of Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, told Jane's . "However, while the genesis of the Falcon system began with the UAE, it is not unique to that requirement - we see a broader roadmap for this type of solution, with numerous areas of interest globally, and we will position it accordingly," he added.

A medium-range variant of the IRIS-T-SL short-range imaging IR-guided SAM - itself a derivative of the IRIS-T air-to-air missile - the IRIS-T-SLM interceptor is an all-weather, IR terminal homing effector. The interceptor is equipped with data link that transmits target information from the ground radar to the missile, and a high-explosive fragmentation warhead with an impact/active radar proximity fuze detonation system.

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