Diehl Defence says it has started development work on an air-to-surface variant of the Raytheon AIM-9L air-to-air missile, which it believes could "contribute effectively to the multi-role capability of the Eurofighter" for the German air force.

On show for the first time at ILA, the purpose of the laser-guided Sidewinder, or "LaGS", is to engage "lightly armoured surface targets in the air-to-surface, close air support and urban close air support roles", the German guided weapons specialist says.

By replacing the missile's infrared seeker with a semi-active laser, the design does not affect the AIM-9's total weight or centre of gravity, so no changes to its aircraft interfaces or rail launcher are required, removing the need for a customer to "shoulder considerable expenses for re-integration", it says. "The planned modification of the available guided missile will generate a new qualified product in the shortest possible time."

LaGS Sidewinder - Diehl Defence 

Diehl Defence

The German air force employs the AIM-9 with its McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms and Panavia Tornado strike aircraft, but its Eurofighters are armed with the Diehl BGT Defence IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile.

Diehl says the acquisition of the LaGS system would provide logistics benefits for Sidewinder users, and meet contemporary demand to field highly precise weapons armed with small warheads.

Also at the show, Diehl is promoting its proposed Pilum glide weapon, which will have a stand-off range of more than 100km (54nm). Evolved from the Hope demonstrator released from a Luftwaffe Tornado in 2008, this features a dual-mode seeker supplied by Israeli partner Rafael and sourced from the latter's Spice 1000 guidance kit.

Described as capable of engaging a wide range of fixed or moving land and naval targets with "extraordinary accuracy", the modular Pilum design could also be carried by the Eurofighter using existing interfaces for Raytheon Paveway-series precision-guided bombs and used in association with Rafael's Litening targeting pod, Diehl says.

Check out our complete coverage for the ILA Airshow

Source: Flight Daily News