The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) has acquired Denel-designed Al Tariq precision guided munitions (PGMs) and is now deploying them on its Mirage 2000 and F-16 Fighting Falcon combat jets.
Mirage 2000s were first seen carrying Al Tariq weapons during the Qader 2021 exercise at the beginning of July. This week, the Egyptian military released a video marking Air Force Day celebrations (held on 14 October every year), showing two F-16C Block 52s carrying Al Tariqs. These are some of the most modern F-16s in the EAF’s inventory, having been delivered less than a decade ago.
The United Arab Emirates’ Al Tariq company is believed to have been responsible for supplying and integrating the Al Tariq onto the Egyptian aircraft.
The Al Tariq weapon started life as the Denel Dynamics Umbani (Lightning) guided bomb system, which is a kit that can be integrated with any Mk 81, Mk 82, Mk 83 and Mk 84 bomb to turn it into a precision weapon. It has a terminal accuracy of 3 metres circular error probable (half of the weapons land within that distance of the aim point) using laser target-designation or an imaging infra-red seeker, a range of 45 km (depending on release height) or more than 120 km using the optional fold-out wing kit and up to 200 km with the optional rocket motor.
The system is essentially wireless, using a tablet computer-like display and programming unit mounted in the cockpit to enable the pilot or weapons officer to programme target details and the attack profile into a weapon mounted on an ordinary dumb pylon, making integration onto aircraft a relatively simple affair.
The Umbani was first test dropped off a South African Air Force Hawk in 2011 and then became the first product (the Al Tariq) of a joint venture between Denel Dynamics (49%) and Tawazun (51%). Tawazun Dynamics supplied the weapon to the UAE Air Force, where it equips its Mirage 2000s and Hawks. It is believed to have been used in combat in Yemen.
Tawazun became Barij Dynamics in 2018 and in November 2019, Barij became Al Tariq when it was consolidated along with 25 other UAE defence entities under the Edge group.
The Al Tariq weapon is available in two main variants: the Al Tariq S (45 km range) and the Al Tariq LR (more than 120 km range) – which have different seekers, payload sizes and wing kit options as well as multiple configurations.
There are three main guidance configurations: accuracy with GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is approximately 10 metres CEP (circular error probable); with GNSS semi-active laser it is three metres CEP, and with GNSS imaging infrared with automatic target recognition, it goes down to two metres CEP. Targeting can be either locked on before, or after, launch.