By Alan Tovey 16 AUGUST 2016 • 4:34PM
Weapons business MBDA has secured a £184m order to equip Britain’s new F-35 stealth fighters with missiles, securing jobs at the company’s Lancashire factory.
The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) will be the first British-designed weapon to go into service on the F-35 and will be built at MBDA’s new Bolton factory, with engineering support provided by the company’s plants in Bristol and Stevenage, guaranteeing 400 jobs involved in producing the missile and in the supply chain.
The mach 3 ASRAAM missile uses infra-red targeting to home in on the heat signature of enemy aircraft and is expected to give the F-35 an edge over other aircraft, as it is a more advanced design capable of flying faster and farther than its peers.
The weapon – which is thought to have a range of about 30 miles – has the ability to lock on to targets both before and after launch, meaning it can be used on targets out of its field of view when it is fired.
Initially the missiles will be carried on wing pylons on the F-35, but in the future it may be developed to be mounted in the jets’ internal weapons bay, maintaining its low radar cross section stealth characteristics.
MBDA – which is jointly owned by BAE Systems, Airbus and Leonardo-Finemeccanica – already supplies ASRAAMs for the RAF’s Typhoon and Tornado jets, and has won orders from air forces in India and Australia.
Original post telegraph.co.uk
ASRAAM design and features
The ASRAAM air-to-air missile can outperform all existing short-range missiles in close-in combat missions. It features low-drag design concept incorporating body lift technology.
The tail-controlled missile measures 2.9m in length, 166mm in diameter and 88kg in weight. It is fitted with high-explosive blast fragmentation warhead with impact and laser proximity fuses. The missile is also equipped with seeker detector cooling and self contained cooling engine.
The missile can be deployed using lock before launch capability to engage targets in the forward hemisphere. It can be launched in ‘lock after launch’ mode to engage targets beyond the seeker acquisition range.
The missile gathers target positional data from aircraft sensors including radar or helmet mounted sight during close-in combat missions when target is located outside the off-boresight and visual limits of seeker. This capability ensures the aircraft’s crew to perform over-the-shoulder firing in ‘lock after launch’ mode.
Missile guidance and sensors
The ASRAAM weapon is guided by an advanced, accurate focal plane array Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) seeker developed by Raytheon. The passive homing guidance system provides the ability to significantly track, acquire and engage targets beyond visual range (BVR) under severe clutter and countermeasures environmental situations.
Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) seeker developed by Raytheon
The missile collects the target data using fibre optic gyro sensors and solid state accelerometers, stabilised in three axes. It can also gather target information from autonomous infrared search and track system.
Propulsion for the short range air-to-air missile
A low signature rocket motor is fitted to drive the ASRAAM short range missile. It provides superior acceleration and range throughout the flight. The motor also allows ASRAAM to quickly intercept any target and gives it a speed of about Mach 3.
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