Operational with 12 nations, of which five are NATO members, Raytheon’s Patriot air defense system is pursuing three key campaigns in Europe as part of a global resurgence in interest in the system. That trend has already resulted in Qatar signing a letter of acceptance for Patriot this week. With the U.S. Army committed to Patriot through 2048, Raytheon is working on a new-generation Patriot and other developments to maintain the system’s viability in the face of emerging and future threats.
The integration of new weapons on some combat aircraft has become so expensive that European Defence Agency (EDA) held a workshop to discuss the problem. But Saab (Hall 4 Stand E5 and Chalet C35) has some helpful suggestions, based on its experience with the Gripen. The Swedish fighter served as the development platform for the Iris-T and Meteor air-to-air missiles, and other weapons were successfully added on time and budget.
A briefing on the Eurofighter Typhoon organized by BAE Systems at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford last week provided a further indication that some key upgrades to the combat jet are being funded by Saudi Arabia and possibly Oman. The four original partner nations have proved reluctant to collectively fund in the near term enhancements that extend the aircraft’s air-to-ground capability, such as integration of the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile. The four partners have also so far failed to approve full development of the Captor-E AESA radar by the Euroradar consortium.
German missile house Diehl Defence (Hall 2c B355) is proposing the GILA (guided intelligent light armament) weapon to the German ministry of defense as a potential weapon to arm the Eurocopter Tiger. The weapon is an adaptation of Elbit’s GATR (guided advanced tactical rocket), which fits a laser guidance package to a 68mm or 70mm rocket. GATR has recently been awarded a demonstration contract by U.S. Special Operations Command.
Following the successful completion of pilot lot test firings, deliveries have begun of the Iris-T (infrared imaging system-tail/thrust vector controlled) short- to medium-range missile. Developed by a consortium led by Diehl BGT Defence, the Iris-T has a BGT-developed imaging infrared seeker and uses both aerodynamic and thrust-vectoring control for excellent agility.
The arrival of the Gripen at the Dubai airshow represents a major milestone in an expanding marketing campaign for Sweden’s multirole fighter. Not only does it mark the aircraft’s first public appearance in the Middle East, it introduces the latest JAS 39C/D–now in service with Sweden and the Czech Republic–to the major international airshow circuit.
Away from the turmoil of the marketplace, the Gripen team has continued to develop the aircraft and enhance its weapon capabilities. On Dec. 13, 2005, a Gripen took off from Linköping with a fully representative systems-fit Meteor missile, the first such flight for this important European weapon.