Israel Military Industries (IMI) is planning the first firing of the Light Defender stand-off loitering weapon system next year.

IMI has teamed up with Lockheed Martin to develop the Light Defender from the Israeli company's Delilah long-range weapon system, principally aimed at addressing a US Navy requirement for a long-range missile to arm its helicopters. The two companies are also developing a ground-launched version.

Next year the USN is expected to issue a request for proposals for the weapon - which would be used for long-range ship attacks - with the intention of equipping around 300 helicopters.

In 2001 the USN issued a request for information on suitable systems, to which IMI responded with the Delilah variant.

Last year the US Congress allocated $4.3 million to allow IMI to prove the system's capability; another $6 million has been allocated for this year. The money will mostly be used to ensure safe launch from a helicopter.

No Light Defender performance details have been released, but it is understood that it will have improved flight characteristics over the Delilah. A rocket will boost the Light Defender after it is released from the helicopter before a UK-built jet engine powers the weapon to its target. Delilah cruises at around Mach 0.8 at between 500ft (150m) and 30,000ft.

Source: Flight International