ISRAEL IS developing a conventional cruise missile derivative of a long-range unmanned air vehicle (UAV) aimed at the requirement of an unspecified Asian customer.

Sources close to the project claim that TAAS (formerly Israel Military Industries) has a funded programme under way to adapt its Delilah decoy UAV into a long-range precision-guided standoff weapon.

The Delilah is already in service with the Israeli air force as a long-range decoy. Sources close to the programme say that the Delilah is also being adapted to perform additional missions for possible export customers.

Other industry sources confirm that a development of the Delilah is under way. This variant is believed to be larger than the decoy UAV, with a higher, although still subsonic cruise speed. When operated as a decoy, the Delilah has a range of over 400km (220nm) at a speed of Mach 0.8.

The size of the conventional warhead being proposed for the Delilah derivative remains unclear, as does the guidance system. The Delilah's Williams turbojet engine is also likely to be replaced with an alternative power plant.

The UAV requires a man-in-the-loop, and a similar guidance system married to an imaging seeker could provide the accuracy required for precision attacks over long range.

Although Israel is not a signatory of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the sale of such a weapon would cause considerable concern, not only in the region, but also among Western nations.

An attack variant of the Delilah would breach the MTCR guidelines on range, but any warhead would be highly unlikely to breach the payload limitations.

The Delilah development is the latest in several missile programmes flagging up the proliferation of long-range standoff strike technologies.

GEC-Marconi recently upset the UK Government with its PGM-4 variant of the Hakim family of weapons for the United Arab Emirates. GEC was forced to redesign the PGM-4 to ensure that it did not breach the MTCR range/payload restrictions before its proposal won Government clearance.

Source: Flight International