Air-to-air missiles become surface-to-air and now there are indications that surface-to-air will become air-to-surface and, in the future, surface-to-air may be attached to wings of fighter aircraft. Confused? This transition may look strange at first glance, but to the Israeli missiles manufacturers it seems to be the right development.
At first, Rafael revealed an effort to develop very advanced "multi-mission, multi-platform" missiles that can also be launched from fighter aircraft in air-to-air missions.
The first implementation of the new approach was when the company used two combat-proven air-to-air missiles, to develop a surface-to-air point-defence system. The Spyder system is based on the Python-5 and the Derby; two very advanced air-to-air missiles.
The system was exported to various countries and, last year, Rafael came up with a longer-range version of it. Boosters attached to the missiles increase their range.
Another proof of the new trend also comes from Rafael, which recently announced that its Stunner missile is actually a next-generation air-to-air missile. The Stunner will be used initially as part of the David's Sling system, aimed at intercepting short- and medium-range rockets.
The very latest development comes from another Israeli missile manufacturer - Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The company has hinted that its Barak-8 air-defence missile may be adapted for launch from airborne platforms.
While IAI sources confirm that such an application is possible, they do not say whether such a move is planned.
The Barak-8 missile is equipped with a fully active seeker. The missile is not dependent on the launcher for targeting and guidance, and can perform at much longer ranges, offering effective protection from aerial threats, manned, unmanned and guided weapons. Covering both low and high altitudes, the missile is designed for operation on board ships as well as for terrestrial applications. The Barak-8 system is designed to engage multiple targets simultaneously with deadly effectiveness.
"When the manufacturers have good building blocks it it is relatively easy for them to use the same missile with minor changes for different applications," one Israeli defence source said recently.