The German defence procurement office (BWB) has signed a DM500 million ($285 million) contract with Bodenseewerk Gerätetechnik (BGT) for development of the IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile.

The contract follows the signature of a six-nation memorandum of understanding (MoU), which clears the way for multinational development of the missile.

The weapon has also been selected by Canada, Greece, Italy, Norway and Sweden. It is being developed in an international industrial partnership led by Germany, with a programme office in Koblenz.

In addition to prime contractor BGT, 10 other companies are involved: AlliedSignal Canada, Hellenic Aerospace, Intracom and Pyrkal from Greece, Alenia-OTO, Fiat Avio and Litton Italia from Italy, Norway's Raufoss and Saab Dynamics from Sweden.

The infrared guided missile is intended to be a replacement for the AIM-9 Sidewinder on Germany's Eurofighter EF2000 and Panavia Tornado.

The weapon will also be carried on the Swedish Saab JAS39 Gripen, Greek and Norwegian Lockheed Martin F-16s, Canada's Boeing CF-18s, and Italy's AMX light combat aircraft.

The missile is designed for high agility with combined aerodynamic and thrust vectoring control. It is fitted with BGT's infrared imaging seeker. The weapon is planned to enter into service in 2002.

Source: Flight International