Stewart Penney/LONDON


Matra BAe Dynamics has won a contract to upgrade the Royal Air Force's Alarm anti-radiation missile with a new solid rocket motor as part of a wider proposal to improve the weapon. The seeker is also being updated as part of a "black" programme.

Responsibility for the seeker update has passed to Alenia Marconi Systems following its creation this year, although GEC-Marconi, the original contractor for the passive seeker head in the 1980s, has been working on the new unit for some time.

Senior Alenia Marconi Systems managers refuse to discuss the work. It is believed, however, that the updated seeker will improve the weapon's capability against radars that have been turned off to defeat anti-radiation missiles.

The Alarm has several launch modes, one of which allows the missile to loiter while drifting earthwards from high altitude, suspended under a parachute waiting for a shutdown radar to be reactivated. By storing the emitter's location, a processor upgrade could allow previously detected radars to be attacked following shutdown.

Other modifications will almost certainly include an update of the missile's on-board threat library to take account of air defence systems entering service since the Alarm was first fielded in the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq.

The planned improvements will increase the Alarm's lifespan from 15 to 25 years, taking the weapon's expiry date to around 2015. Its main platform, the Panavia Tornado strike aircraft, is due to be retired then, although the weapon has been earmarked for use with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

German manufacturer LFK, which made the original rocket motor, is subcontractor for the motor overhaul. This will include replacing the solid fuel propellant and refurbishing the motor casing. The UK Ministry of Defence declines to comment.

Source: Flight International