Opher bomb deployed in Kosovo

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Italian air force AMX pilots have used the Israeli made Opher imaging infra-red guided bombs in action for the first time over Kosovo, according to the weapon's makers Elbit Systems.

Serb air defence sites were destroyed in the first attack in mid-April, Dan Israeli, the company's guided munitions programme manager, says. The weapons were sold to Italy in 1997 in a $25 million deal.

"Opher is unique - it is the only operational combat proven system that is really fire and forget," says Israeli.

"When a pilot arrives in the target areas he can release up to four Opher systems in the approximate direction of the target. The infra-red imaging seeker on the bombs then autonomously acquires the target and guides the bomb to it.

"This is a unique weapon; it can be used at day or night. Its also good for operations in the European scenario where low cloud interrupts the guidance of weapons that rely on line-of-sight targeting, such as laser guided bombs and optically-guided missiles.

The Opher is part of the company's Whizzard family of smart bombs. Its sister is the Lizard, which is a tradition-laser-guided bomb. Both share common tail and nose fin units but have interchangeable seeker units.