IRIS-T SL achieves qualification after successful firings at Overberg


Diehl’s IRIS-T Surface Launched missile has successfully demonstrated its full performance envelope and achieved qualification after three firings at the Overberg Test Range last month.

Diehl said the three guided firings were executed in different short- to medium-range and very low- to high-altitude scenarios and that all of them resulted in direct hits of the target drones. To prove the capabilities of IRIS-T SL, jet target drones of different sizes were used performing a large variety of realistic evasive manoeuvres.

The first target was engaged at a distance of more than 30 km. The IRIS-T SL missile flight time was about one minute, reaching an altitude above 12 km. Despite an evasive manoeuvre involving changing direction and altitude, a direct hit of the target was achieved, proving the medium range capabilities of IRIS-T SL.

The second firing was at very close range to the launch point to prove the missile´s short range engagement capabilities. During this firing, IRIS-T SL jettisoned its aerodynamic cover shortly after launch, immediately initiating a hard turn-over manoeuvre towards the low flying target. The entire engagement lasted less than 10 seconds and also ended with a direct hit.

The third firing was carried out against a very small, fast and agile target drone featuring high agility and extreme manoeuvring capability. A direct hit was achieved at 12.5 km range and 1.5 km altitude even though the drone performed aggressive dive/pull-up evasive manoeuvres.

The performance demonstration firings concluded a series of test firings as part of the IRIS-T SL system development. Having been contracted by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr for Equipment, Information Technology, and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), representatives of the BAAINBw as well as the German Air Force witnessed IRIS-T SL’s performance in full accordance with the requirements of the German Air Force. IRIS-T SL is planned to be a component of the future German Air and Missile Defence System (TLVS).

Diehl has used Overberg for testing in the past – for instance in mid-January 2014 the company tested the IRIS-T SL with the new CEAFAR active phased array radar from CEA Technologies in Australia, the BMD-Flex command, control and communication system from Terma in Denmark and the Oerlikon Skymaster battle management system from Rheinmetall Air Defence in Switzerland. A low-flying EADS Do-DT 25 jet target drone was destroyed at 20 km. Earlier test firings took place in November 2013.

The IRIS-T SLM (Surface Launched Medium range) air defence system is a modular design featuring open system architecture, allowing it to use a variety of radars and control systems. It is being developed for Germany as a stop-gap to the Medium Extended Air Defence System (Meads) being produced by Lockheed Martin and MBDA and is a ground-launched version of the infrared homing IRIS-T in service with the South African Air Force. It has a sharp nose cone to reduce drag that is separated prior to approaching a target.

Diehl Defence said the mobile, medium-range systems provide comprehensive 360 degree protection against air attacks by aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and guided weapons. They allow simultaneous engagement of several targets even at very short distances thanks to extremely short reaction times.

The Denel Overberg Test Range (DOTR) is a missile and aircraft test range that provides turnkey flight test, system certification and performance evaluation services for missiles, rockets, bombs, guided munitions and aircraft. The range can manage and carry out air, ground and sea flight tests. It has the facilities to evaluate and measure the performance of aircraft, their avionics systems and their carriage and release of ordnance. The range is also able to conduct anti-tank tests, helicopter-based tests and electronic warfare tests.

With more than 43 000 hectares of terrain and almost 70 km of uninhabited coastline, the Test Range is a perfect arena for testing stand-off weapon systems.

Weapons tested at the DOTR include the Taurus Systems KEPD-350 stand-off missile, the MBDA Storm Shadow stand-off missile, the IRIS-T, Thales Starstreak, MBDA Mistral air defence missiles, Denel Dynamics Umkhonto surface-to-air missile, Umbani guided bomb kit and A-Darter air-to-air missile.