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ILA 2024: Diehl Defence unveils IRIS-T SLX missile system

Diehl Defence displayed a life-size model of the IRIS-T SLX missile at the ILA Berlin Air Show. (Andrew White)

Diehl Defence has revealed details on the SLX, the latest member in its family of IRIS-T air-to-air and ground-based air-defence missile systems, at the ILA Berlin Air Show held from 5 to 9 June.

Company officials provided an update to journalists on 6 June on IRIS-T SLX, the longest-range air-defence munition in its inventory designed to neutralise aircraft at ranges up to 80 km.

Currently developed up to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 or 6, IRIS-T SLX will not be available for another four years, Diehl Defence CEO Helmut Rauch and the company's chief programme officer (CPO), Harald Buschek, said.

Diehl's longest-range interceptor currently in service in Ukraine is the IRIS-T SLM (Surface Launched Medium Range), which has a maximum range of 40 km and maximum operating altitude of 20 km. SLM missiles have had close to 100% hit rates during the Ukraine war, according to Diehl.

Neither Rauch nor Buschek was able to provide additional details due to operational security concerns. They described the SLM missile as “combat proven”, with more than 240 targets destroyed since the system was first donated to Ukraine in 2022.

In addition to twice the range of the SLM, the SLX variant will be capable of reaching altitudes up to 30 km, according to Diehl, which believes this will enable the new missile to target and destroy aircraft carrying longer-range, stand-off precision weapons.

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