Current mission scenarios illustrate the growing need for light-weight, air-to-surface guided weapons for pin-point engagement of small, lightly armoured targets. For such missions, the German Air Force previously only possessed weapons originally developed and procured for the engagement of large, hardened targets. Missions against small, mobile targets, however, require new weaponry designed for this specific purpose, combining low explosive power with high hit accuracy (pin-point engagement) while avoiding accompanying damage as far as possible.
|Diehl LaGS fired by Eurofighter TYPHOON. (Graphic: Diehl)|
The laser-guided Diehl Defence SIDEWINDER (LaGS) programme for retrofit of the SIDEWINDER air-to-air guided missile family, a worldwide success story, is tailored to modern mission scenarios. The customer benefits from the fact that existing weapon systems can be modified at little expense of time and money for future air-to-surface missions. Replacement of the SIDEWINDER seeker in the guidance and control section by a semi-active laser (SAL) seeker provides for covering new mission scenarios by a missile already integrated in numerous combat aircraft without the need to reintegrate it at considerable expense. The SAL seeker concept features a laser target designator enabling the SAL seeker to home the missile autonomously in on the laser illuminated target. The new precision weapon has a hit accuracy of approx. one meter.
Dimensions, weight, centre of gravity and moments of inertia of the SIDEWINDER missile are retained in the modification – as well as the interface with the weapon station and the aircraft, including software. Thus the customer has new possibilities of equipping aircraft with a combination of heavy and light weapons. Due to its modular design, LaGS will be able to make an important contribution to air-to-surface missions of various carrier platforms.