LFK has passed a series of development milestones on its Taurus KEPD350 stand-off munition and Trigat LR anti-armour weapon programmes. However, principal shareholder EADS has warned the German government that the missile company's future is gloomy without orders for the systems.

The latest Taurus flight test at the Overberg range in South Africa included for the first time a high pop-up manoeuvre and a free flight over the weapon's full 350km (190nm) range. The weapon has been developed by Taurus Systems, a 67:33 LFK and Saab Bofors Dynamics joint venture.

LFK says the test also proved the link between a new mission planning system and the weapon's flight control software.

Tests of the Trigat LR missile with the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter, meanwhile, included separation trials and a series of non-firing tests that proved the missile/helicopter combination through target lock-on and ignition of the missile engine. Previous firings have been from a Eurocopter Panther.

LFK says the "experimental phase" of the tri-national Trifom/Polyphem fibre-optic guided missile will be concluded later this year. It says a final series of tests is planned for June which will include a 25km free flight over the Meppen range in Germany.France and Italy are also participating in the missile's development through MBDA, into which LFK will be integrated this year. The German navy intends to use the Polyphem as an anti-ship missile.

A development phase is to start next year, but depends on all three nations reaching agreement in the next few months.

Tom Enders, EADS executive vice president, and head of the Defence and Civil Systems business that includes LFK and EADS's holding in MBDA, said at the Berlin air show earlier this month: "Trigat LR, Polyphem, Taurus and Meteor are vital to LFK. There are German budget issues. If there is no LFK business, why bother integrating it into MBDA?" He said talks continue with the other MBDA partners – BAE Systems and Finmeccanica - adding "but the shape of the German arm is dependent on German orders".

Lockheed Martin and Eurocopter have reached agreement to integrate the AGM-114 Hellfire anti-armour weapon with the Tiger helicopter. Australia has specified Hellfire as the primary weapon for its 22 Tigers, for which it is the first export customer.


Source: Flight International