Douglas Barrie/LONDON

Rafael of Israel is working on the design of ramjet-missile power plants, with test launches having already been carried out. The programme feeds into projects now in the development stages.

The state-owned group's Manor Propulsion and Explosive Systems division has tested an annular-intake ramjet design, which is believed to be potentially associated with a project to develop a supersonic successor to the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Gabriel anti-ship missile.

Details of Israeli ramjet programmes are scant, with Rafael saying only that the projects are technology demonstrators. It declines to discuss potential specific applications for ramjet propulsion.

An annular-intake-ramjet design, however, is most applicable to surface-to-air, air-to-surface, or surface-to-surface roles. Multiple sleeve inlets (either two or four) are viewed as preferable for integrated rocket-ramjet designs for air-to-air applications.

The programme to develop a Gabriel successor, thought to have been launched, in the early 1990s is being led by IAI. The Israeli navy requirement is for a missile with an increased engagement range and greater lethality.

A ramjet anti-ship missile would require a solid-propellant booster to provide the thrust to attain the speed at which transition to the ramjet sustainer motor is feasible, normally in the region of Mach 2.

Anti-ship missiles have been developed with ramjet propulsion, although, with the exception of the NPO Mashinostroenia Yakhont, and possibly the SS-N-19 Shipwreck, none have used an annular-intake design, a sleeve intake being the preferred solution.


Rafael is also certain to be looking at ramjet applications for future air-to-air missile designs. It is conceivable that Israel's ramjet projects have been run in conjunction with South African propulsion specialist Somchem.

Source: Flight International