THE GERMAN MINISTRY of Defence is attempting to build a next-generation European short-range air-to-air missile (AAM) programme around Bodenseewerk Geratetechnik's (BGT) IRIS-T AAM.

The German defence ministry earlier this month invited partners from the European Sidewinder consortium, which manufactured the missile under licence, to participate in the IRIS-T, according to Peter Emmerich, BGT's systems analysis manager.

The IRIS-T, unveiled at the show, has already been selected by the German air force, as its future short range AAM for the Eurofighter 2000 and Panavia Tornado interdictor strike aircraft. An in-service date of 2002 is planned.

The missile has an imaging infra red seeker, active laser fuze, cruciform forward stabilisers, mid-body wings, and rear fins. Manoeuvrability is provided by aerodynamic control surfaces and thrust-vector control. The seeker has a 90°, look angle, giving it a high off bore sight capability.

As it is now configured, the missile rear section is significantly wider than the main body section, which is similar to that of the AIM-9L Sidewinder.

Emmerich says that, despite the increased diameter, "...the drag issue is not so severe". He adds that the rear-section diameter could be reduced to that of the main body section, although this would incur a cost penalty in repackaging the thrust-vector control section of the missile.

BGT intends to begin missile flight tests of the imaging infra red seeker head, which will provide aim-point selection, in the second quarter of 1996. The seeker will be married to a Sidewinder body for the trials. Rocket-motor firing tests will start in the next nine months.

BGT has already carried out captive flight trials, with the company saying that it proved 25 times more resistant to infra red countermeasures than the current generation of the Sidewinder. The seeker was flown against the Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum, Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter and Lockheed Martin F-16.

BGT has been working with AlliedSignal Aerospace Canada on the actuation system for the missile, with Raufoss of Norway involved in the motor design.

Source: Flight International