THOMSON-THORN IS proposing to package three millimetre-wave (MMW) radar-guided rocket-boosted sub-munitions in a Hunting BL755 cluster-bomb casing in its bid for the £800 million Royal Air Force air-launched anti-armour weapon.

The Advanced Anti-Armour Weapon (TAAWS) proposal draws heavily on the original Thorn EMI Swathe design, although this envisaged four unpowered terminally guided sub-munitions (TGSMs) housed in a BL755 body.

Thomson-Thorn has moved to a powered variant of the TGSM, for the indirect-attack-requirement element of Staff Requirement (Air)1238. In the direct-attack mode, the motor is dispensed with immediately after release from the BL755 dispenser. The TGSM is ejected using a gas bag system.

In the indirect-attack mode, where the requirement calls for a stand-off-attack capability, the rocket motor burns for around 2s says Thomson-Thorn, after the TGSM is deployed from the BL755 bus. The powered TGSM also allows for a considerable off-bore-sight attack capability, according to the company.

In continuing with the TGSM/BL755 package, Thomson-Thorn is trying to recoup its work on the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) 3 TGSM. Originally a programme involving four nations, the USA, Germany and the UK have dropped out, with only France remaining committed to purchasing the weapon.

Frank Breach,Thomson-Thorn business executive for ranges and systems, says that some $600 million was spent on MLRS 3 development, with the UK contributing 20%. Around 50% of the total cost, was on MMW-seeker development and validation.

Thomson-Thorn looked at various sub-munitions dispensers, including US and European designs, before opting for the BL755. The BL755, argues the company, offers a low-cost, low-risk, approach. The BL755 is already cleared on the Panavia Tornado and British Aerospace Harrier, and would only need to be qualified on the Eurofighter EF2000.

Hunting is now pursuing SR(A)1238, offering the SWAARM 2 sub-munitions dispenser, based on the Daimler-Benz Aerospace DWS24 airframe. British Aerospace is offering the Typhoon, based on the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, while Texas Instruments is pushing its Joint Stand-Off Weapon and GEC Marconi is offering its Brimstone MMW-guided missile.

Source: Flight International