If there is still anyone that does not accept the fact that aerial platforms have lost their importance compared with the systems that are on that platforms, he should visit Rafael, the Israeli company that developed some of the best air-air missiles on the market today.
Rafael said recently that it is developing a very advanced “Multi mission, Multi platform” missile. The classification air-to-air missile is not mentioned. The new type are missiles that can be launched also from fighter aircraft in air-air missions. Also is the key word here if you did not notice.
The new approach was adapted to answer the diversified needs of armed forces and the heavy investments in developing different missiles for different platforms.
A senior Rafael source said that the first implementation of the new approach could be seen when the company used two combat proven air-air missiles to develop a surface-to-air point defence system. The Spyder system is based on the Python-5 and the Derby.
The system was exported to some countries and last year the Israeli company revealed a longer range version of it. Boosters attached to the missiles increase their range.
The basic SR version has a 20km effective range. By attaching boosters to the two missiles the new Spyder MR has an effective range of 50km.
The Spyder MR has a different radar than the one installed on the basic Spyder SR system.
The two canisters on the launcher can be opened before launch to enable the active sensor of the Derby and the passive sensor of the Python -5 to acquire the targets.
The Derby is capable of receiving data from any search radar, using a data link that is part of the launcher. This data link is used also to transfer the cuing data to the missile after launch.
The missile can also be launched after lock on, normally at very close range.
The Derby is equipped with a Pulse Doppler radar, made by the MBT division of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI). The radar has a look down capability.
According to the Rafael source, the Spyder in its two versions is a good example of how ”we used two air-air missiles to offer a point defence system. Later we added boosters. This is the guideline now. We develop building blocks for very advanced missiles that can be used from an air, ground or sea platform.”
Rafael confirmed last year that its “Stunner” missile is actually a next generation air-air missile. The Stunner will be used initially as part of the “David’s Sling” system aimed at intercepting short and medium range rockets.