Germany's BGT is beginning work on a very short-range air defence (VSHORAD) missile based on the infrared guided IRIS-T short range air-to-air missile.

The LFK NG LeFla missile is sponsored by the German BWB arms procurement agency and international partners are being sought for the programme. Development work on the concept study is getting under way and could result in an operational weapon by mid-2004.

LeFla is aimed as a back-up to man-portable systems such as Raytheon's Stinger, offering a non-line-of-sight (NLOS) mode aimed at targeting attack helicopters using terrain masking. The initial offering will be on the Ocelot tracked chassis, but BGT also aims to qualify the weapon as an air-to-air missile for the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter, as a post mounted man/crew portable system and as a containerised weapon suitable for point defence.

BGT's Stefan Eckert says the missile will weigh 19kg (42lb), have an 8km (5 miles)-plus range and a maximum Mach 2.5 velocity.

LeFla resembles a scaled-down IRIS-T - being 1.8m (5.9ft)-long with a 90mm diameter. The MSK one-colour, imaging infrared seeker has a 70mm diameter uses a two dimensional matrix similar to IRIS-T, says Eckert. The scan field-of-view, is however, slightly less than the ±90° of IRIS-T, he adds.

Using the IRIS-T configuration gives the missile high manoeuvrability, says Eckert, while a datalink allows target position updates to be passed to the missile when used in the NLOS mode.

As with the larger weapon, aerodynamic fins and thrust vectoring control are used to manoeuvre the missile. Eckert says the TVC allows the missile to be used from vertical launchers. Bayen Chemie will supply the dual pulse motor.

Eckert says BGT will also evaluate LeFla as the basis for a longer-range SHORAD missile to replace Roland/Gepard/Rapier type systems in 2015-20.

Source: Flight International