Yesterday at IDEX Lockheed Martin, Diehl Defence and Saab launched a new short-/medium-range ground-based air defence (GBAD) system. Known as Falcon and initiated as a programme in 2016, the system draws on the command and control, missile and radar expertise of the three companies to create an integrated standalone system that offers exceptional capability in its class.
Falcon is being promoted to various nations, including the UAE, which has issued a request for information concerning a Hawk surface-to-air missile replacement.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor and lead system integrator, and also supplier of the SkyKeeper battle management system, which is based on the UK's Land Environment Air Picture Provision system, which creates a recognised air picture from data supplied by British Army Giraffe AMB radars and other sources.
In the Falcon system the organic radar information is provided by the Saab Giraffe 4A S-band radar, one of a new group of radars produced by the Swedish company based on the latest gallium nitride semi-conductor technology. The radar provides 360° coverage out to an instrumented range of 280km, rotating at 60rpm but also offering a staring capability. The radar provides enhanced low, slow, small detection capability against difficult-to-detect targets and also has a sense-and-warn capability for the counter-rockets, artillery, mortars role.
Diehl Defence supplies the Iris-T SLM interceptors, based to some extent on the Iris-T air-to-air missile but developed specifically for a GBAD role. Vertically launched to give a true 360° coverage capability, the Iris-T SLM has an engagement range of between less than 1km and 40km, and altitude capability of up to 20km. Guidance is by radar-directed datalink and an infrared seeker. A thrust-vectoring motor gives the missile a high level of agility.
A typical Falcon battery is envisaged with a single SkyKeeper command and control unit, one Giraffe 4A radar and three Iris-T SLM launchers, each of which carries eight interceptor canisters.
All elements are mobile, allowing rapid deployment. The system can track more than 800 targets, and all 24 interceptors can be launched simultaneously at separate targets.
Additional Iris-T launchers and other types of effectors can be integrated, while Falcon itself can be networked into a wider air defence system.