Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa) is pushing the German Government for approval of a DM350 million ($190 million) two-year flight test demonstration for its EURAAM next generation air-to-air missile programme.
Go-ahead for the project could be received by the end of June, allowing Dasa's LFK missile subsidiary and its rocket motor subsidiary Bayern-Chemie to proceed with a 24-month programme culminating in four unguided flight tests of the rocket/ramjet engine.
LFK hopes for go-ahead "within weeks". It says the aim of the flights is "-to demonstrate the operation of the ramjet engine and guidance and control".
The EURAAM demonstrator is politically sensitive, however, since LFK is also part of the Matra BAe Dynamics-led Meteor team bidding to meet the Royal Air Force's Staff requirement for a beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM). Raytheon is leading a team competing for the RAF requirement with a development of the AIM-120 AMRAAM.
The UK Ministry of Defence has been trying to persuade Germany, along with Italy and Sweden, to support its programme financially. Agreement has foundered so far, say programme sources, because basic ground rules for the requirement and a collaborative structure could not be agreed. Germany, in particular, is said to be increasingly disenchanted with the UK's desire to dictate the programme using European money.
A UK decision is not expected until at least the end of the year.
The EURAAM test rounds will not have an active radar seeker, although some funding will be used for its continued development. Choice of seeker remains a basic difference between German and UK requirements.
While the Meteor bid is based on a GEC-Marconi Ku-band active radar seeker, the EURAAM uses a Dasa Ulm Ka-band seeker with a secondary X-band passive channel. German industry sources claim that the Ku-band approach fails to meet its own air force's emerging requirement.
Should the UK opt for an AMRAAM-based solution, LFK is proposing that it continue the EURAAM development to develop a next generation active-radar-guided BVRAAM.