IRIS-T - The pinnacle of IR guided Short Range Air to Air Missiles

IRIS-T

The InfraRed Imaging System Tail/Thrust vector-controlled(IRIS-T, also known as AIM-2000) is a state-of-the art Imaging Infrared(IIR or I²R) seeker equipped Short Range Air to Air Missile(SRAAM) developed by a consortium of Germany, Canada, Greece, Norway, Italy and Sweden. Its leading and manufacturing company is German Diehl BGT Defence.

Development/History

Development of this new weapon commenced after Germany left the British and German-led ASRAAM programme following the discovery that the R-73 or AA-11 Archer was much more powerful than originally predicted. Germany had decided that the ASRAAM’s idea of needing a longer range missile was no longer the primary concern. Instead, the primary focus was to build a High Off BoreSight(HOBS) capable missile that could lock targets up to 90° off boresight and engage at very short ranges. Additionally, it was designed to receive targeting data via datalink, such as MIDS, to engage targets outside of its 90° gimbal range using Lock On After Launch(LOAL). The purpose of this is to allow the pilot to launch a missile in a dogfight or furball without having to point the aircraft at the adversary and even allowing the pilot to shoot down an aircraft behind the launching platform.

Diehl BGT Defence already had experience developing and producing the license built AIM-9L, the upgraded AIM-9L/I and AIM-9L/I-1(AIM-9M counterparts) but decided that an entirely new missile was necessary due to the performance discrepancy between the R-73 and the AIM-9L/M. Additionally, it was also decided that the new missile was to be entirely compatible with previous AIM-9(L) launch rails and software(similar size, weight, centre of gravity, analog interface). Thus, in 1998, development commenced for this missile with 46% being Germany, 20% Italy, 18% Sweden, 8% Greece, 4% Canada and 3% Norway. This split later changed to 46% Germany, 19% Italy, 18% Sweden, 13% Greece and 4% between Spain and Norway after Canada left the programme in 2001/2002

First successful missile firings were done with a GAF F-4F in 1996, proving the capabilities of the new I²R and Thrust-Vectoring equipped missile. Integration for the F-16 and Eurofighter started in 2001 at a cost of 61,4 mln € for Eurofighter integration and “several million euros” for the F-16’s integration. In 2003 Germany gave the go-ahead for serial production. Spain had also selected the IRIS-T as their new SRAAM and decided to go ahead with IRIS-T integration on their F/A-18Cs. It was also decided that the IRIS-T was to be integrated with the Panavia Tornado and Saab Gripen. The initial production run’s cost was around 1 bln € with over 4000 IRIS-Ts being produced(unit price of around 250 000 €).

The Luftwaffe received their first serial production units in 2005 with the first serial production unit test firings commencing in June 2007 on Saab Gripens.

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Capabilities

The Seeker and Guidance

Seeker video

The IRIS-T uses an Imaging Infrared seeker with an effective resolution of 128x128 pixels. This seeker is mounted on a pitch and roll stabilised gimbal which is allows it to detect and lock onto targets up to 90° off boresight. Unlike the typical Focal Plane Arrays, like the ones you’d find in an ASRAAM or AIM-9X, the seeker in the IRIS-T uses a 128x2 pixel array which it scans 80 times per second using a mirror, essentially creating a 128x128 picture. This was done to significantly increase its resilience towards DIRCM(for those who don’t know: it’s basically lasers that shine into the seeker of an incoming missile to blind it) with a side effect being that it’s easier to cool than full res I²R seekers. Additionally, the I²R technology allows for much greater IRCM resistance than traditional analog IR seekers. It’s even capable of employing a “Home-On-Jam” (HOJ) mode when it detects DIRCM interference by only using the angular values received by the scanning 128x2 pixel array and rolling the missile or the seeker to get the required 2 angles for its proportional navigation autopilot. The I²R seeker is capable of locking onto a target after being launched by guiding on a datalink target using its Inertial Navigation System(INS). These datalink targets can come from any sensor such as an AWACS over Link 16 or even the missile approach warning sensors on aircraft that have them(such as the ones integrated with the Eurofighter’s EuroDASS Praetorian which uses millimeter wave radar for accurate detection and ranging). It uses Northrop Grumman Italia’s Lital INS which was previously only used on fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. Unlike most guided missiles, the IRIS-T doesn’t use a Proportional-Integral-Derivative(PID) controller but rather an H-infinity method due to the inherent nonlinearity of the IRIS-T’s control. It’s one of the first missiles to use such a guidance method. With these guidance methods and advanced seeker technologies, the IRIS-T is marketed as a “direct hit missile with pinpoint accuracy”, being capable of even shooting down incoming air to air and surface to air missiles.

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The Warhead, Propulsion and Physical Design

The rather average warhead is a 11,4kg high explosive fragmentating warhead, triggered by a Ku-Band radar proximity fuse and/or an impact fuse.

Less average, however, is the propulsion. The IRIS-T is equipped with a solid fuel rocket motor. This rocket motor sets itself apart from others by providing a 4 staged thrust which works as follows:

Stage #1: High thrust to boost the missile away from the launching platform

Stage #2: Low thrust to allow the missile to turn up to 180° at high angular velocities

Stage #3: High thrust to reach its max speed of around mach 3

Stage #4: Low thrust sustainer for minimizing energy loss for longer distance shots

Coupled with said rocket motor comes a thrust vectoring and fin controlled tail section which grants the IRIS-T its super high maneuverability and 360° protection. The IRIS-T is said to be faster than the Sidewinders, it’s been replacing, through a combination of lower drag and higher overall thrust.

The Maneuverability

Due to the nature of these missiles, pretty much everything is classified so numbers are very hard to come by so take these values here with a grain of salt.

With its optimised propulsion and thrust vectoring, the IRIS-T displays incredible maneuverability. It’s said to be able to do a 90° turn in just half a second(shooting at a target behind the launching aircraft).

Exact numbers are hard to find but it’s claimed to be capable of pulling at least 100G.

Summary/Statcard

Length: 2,936m

Diameter: 12,7cm

Weight: 88kg

Width: 45cm

Max speed: >Mach 3

Max range: ~25km

Guidance: Infrared Imaging

Max overload: >100G

IRCCM: Yes

DIRCCM: Yes

Warhead: 11,4kg

Fuse: radar and impact

Cost: 250 000€

In service: 2005

Integrated aircraft: Eurofighter Tyhoon, Panavia Tornado, F-4F ICE(most likely analog only), F/A-18 Hornet, JAS 39 Gripen, F-16 Fighting Falcon, KF-21, FA-50/T-50, F-5E; (in theory all AIM-9L carrying platforms)

Developing countries: Initially 46% Germany, 20% Italy, 18% Sweden, 8% Greece, 4% Canada and 3% Norway; Later 46% Germany, 19% Italy, 18% Sweden, 13% Greece, 4% Spain and Norway

Development: 1995 - 2005

Manufacturer: Diehl BGT Defence

Users: Brazil, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Austria, Saudi-Arabia, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, South Korea, Indonesia

Pictures

Spoiler

IRIS-T_Schnitt.jpg

http://www.airpower.at/news02/1103_eu-missiles/iris-t.gif (thanks gaijin for not showing this properly)

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th?id=OIP.P8Tk4nnQk1lPumpptqB76wEsDh%26pid=Api

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Unavailable: https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https://www.eurofighter.com/files/thumbs/full/039AFA_071008_0118.jpg&f=1&nofb=1&ipt=c8c8ff2c6ea71b2baea7e3571a63b94522c7f127d745f9c7afe15bb2a3553def&ipo=images

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Sources

Spoiler

IRIS-T is first tactical missile to use Lital navigation system

Eurofighter Typhoon

https://web.archive.org/web/20130719143431/http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2010armament/ThursdayLandmarkAEdgarFossheim.pdf

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IRIS-T makes German air force debut | News | Flight Global

https://web.archive.org/web/20140819090425/https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/2003/2003 - 0307.PDF

https://web.archive.org/web/20140819090345/https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1996/1996 - 2638.html

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Schmidt - IRIS-T

IRIS-T missile team fixes firing fault | News | Flight Global

https://web.archive.org/web/20130612054850/http://www.diehl.com/fileadmin/diehl-defence/user_upload/flyer/IRIS-T_e_Eurofighter.pdf

IRIS-T Combat ASRAAM on Swiss F/A-18 Missiles Program

JANE’S MISSILES AND ROCKETS – APRIL 01, 2002

screw the changelog

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Spoiler

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Spoiler

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14 Likes

imagine defending against a 100g missile

12 Likes

you’re not gonna be doing a lot of defending. you’re either out of range or you’re dead ;)

11 Likes

Tornado should get it tbh. Its such a poor craft with nothing than 2 weak AIM-9L, which always get flared off. It can’t maneuter without snapping its wings, it can’t outrun competition, it has just two AAM slots…so why no at least give it a superior missile. Especially considering every match seems to be an uptier to 12.0.

8 Likes

i mean… yes i agree that its kind of a bad aircraft but giving it iris-ts would place it at at least 12.0 if not higher because its like literally 2 free kills

3 Likes

No, it really doesnt need them, its a strike aircraft, the 9L’s are for defense, it doesnt need 2 free kills

Ngl 100G’s seems completely unrealistic, R-73 is a TVC missile and is capable of 45G’s single plane. AIM-9X is 60G’s single plane afawk.

2 Likes

A-Darter is claimed to have 100Gs of maneuverability and thats got a very similar shape…

but these values are EXTREMELY classified so you will not find anything remotely close to “official numbers”.

100Gs combined plane would equal around 70Gs single plane by the way

8 Likes

TBF, the IRIS-T was literally designed to exceed the R-73 in performance, and is like 20 years newer, and the AIM-9X is still built on the AIM-9 design to some degree. The IRIS-T is over the shoulder capable, which afaik the 9X got at a later date as a capability, and other missiles that also have that capability, such as the MICA and Python 5 are also new built missiles designed to do similar extreme off-bore attacks.

4 Likes

100G’s combined is a much more acceptable figure yep.

1 Like

Exceeding and over doubling its turn-G are two different things lol; given R-73 was a very advanced missile too

1 Like

All sources I can see state 60G’s, where does 100G come from anyway?

“all sources”, you mean that one swedish pdf file that says 60?

3 Likes

I’ll put it this way, I have yet to see a source saying anything other than 60G’s.

1 Like

i can pretty much guarantee you that anything is just a guess.
My guess is that, based on what’s been claimed about the A-Darter and its similar body, it’s closer to 100G(or above) in combined plane.
Weird things have been said about it like this comparison between it and the R-73
Friedrichshafen: Auf gelenktem Feuerstrahl ins Ziel | SÜDKURIER Online (archive.org)
something along the lines of “if the R-73’s turning radius is an apple, the IRIS-T has that of a plum”, JANE’S MISSILES AND ROCKETS – APRIL 01, 2002 apparently states that it needs 2 footballfields to turn 180° and if you do some very unscientific estimates with that you get something close or above 100G.

Again, none of this is scientific and none of it is actually true. Treat it as if there is no source for it.

I just think that comparing it to the A-Darter is fair due to their similar shape.

There have been no official statements from Diehl Defense with specific numbers about its maneuverability.

2 Likes

You have to remember that Gaijin models missiles using single plane. A single plane G of 60 give a dual plane of 85G’s which is definitely in the ball park.

1 Like

a dual plane of 100g would give a single plane of 70g which is also most definitely in the ball park

3 Likes

There’s a rumour that UA MiG-29s might be using an IRST, but it is only a rumour, so take it with a grain of salt.

well that would be a usable aircraft to add to germany so that tech tree still gets some upgrades

Pinnacle of IR missiles, just like the Leopard 2 was the pinnacle of tank design prior to a few weeks ago?..

Bring on the ASRAAM, the true king of IR.