The Air and Space Army has launched a program to modernize its fleet of IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missiles used by both the F-18 (EF-18M) and Eurofighter combat aircraft.
The IRIS-T (Infra-Red Imaging System-Tail/Thrust vector controlled), designed by the German company Diehl, has state-of-the-art IR image guidance. With a weight of 87.4 kg, its main objectives are those of high maneuverability, such as fighter planes, cruise missiles, unmanned vehicles (UAV), among others.
Spain approved in 2009 the purchase of 770 IRIS-T missiles for almost 250 million euros in 2009 to replace the AIM-9L Sidewinder series of missiles. The Spanish firm Sener participates in the program as responsible for the actuators of the flight control system and the wings of the missiles. The project is led by Germany, although Spain, Italy, Greece, Sweden and Norway also participate.
It is a fire-and-forget type weapon integrated into the EF18M fleets of the Torrejón and Zaragoza airbases and in the Eurofighters of the Air Force, allowing target designation both by radar and through the pilot’s helmet.
The aerodynamic and vectorial control of thrust provides the missile with great mobility and high maneuverability in all axes, even at low speeds and high altitude, which is a great advantage in short-range combat, explains the Air Force. .
The high resolution IR image seeker together with the intelligent image processor and a high target selection capacity represent a qualitative leap compared to its competitors, improving the discrimination capacity against countermeasures.
In addition, the high thermal and spatial resolution allow it to have a wide acquisition of targets and a high tracking capacity, resulting in a weapon of great precision on impact and high effectiveness. Its wide viewing angle and rapid angular acceleration allow it to engage targets even behind the aircraft itself and intercept enemy missiles.