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Land-based medium-range air-Defence.

While asymmetrical confrontations seldom see a three-dimensional threat from the insurgent side, all the latest large-scale conflicts have started with a massive air campaign aimed at annihilating enemy command and control, communication and air assets. Although not on the top priority list, air defence still remains a key element.

As short-range air-defence systems become more mobile and aimed at protecting tactical-level units, the defence of key assets such as those listed above is the domain of ground-based medium-range air-defence systems. Drawing the boundaries between short, medium and long range is no easy task today, but one can broadly define two categories of systems: the higher tier can be extended towards ballistic missile defence; the lower tier is with considerably shorter ranges.


The most widely deployed system is certainly the Raytheon Patriot, which was initially deployed in 1984 with the US Army and since has been adopted by ten other countries, the latest being the United Arab Emirates which in December 2008 acquired ten Patriot Pac-3 fire units and 216 guidance enhanced missiles for $ 3.3 billion, with a follow-on spare parts contract worth $ 246 million. In the last 25 years Raytheon has ensured a constant evolution of the system in order to meet the evolving threats. Since the beginning the range of the Patriot missile, in excess of 70 km, allowed to give it some basic effectiveness against tactical ballistic missiles. In 1988 the Initial TBM Capability was acquired while the software evolved to the PDB-1 and PDB-2 (where PDB stands for Post Deployment Build) release; in the meantime the Mim-104 initial missile had been replaced by the Mim-104 A in which the analogue fuse was replaced by a digital one, which was followed by the Mim-104B, or Stand Off Jammer Counter, which guidance and navigation hardware was modified to allow the missile to fly a lofted trajectory to the jamming source and seek out the strongest emitter during its terminal phase. During Operation Desert Storm the software was upgraded to the PDB-3.The low performances of baseline Patriot missiles against TBMs brought on the development of the Pac-2. This featured greater range, over 100 km, a new warhead containing a more powerful explosive and larger fragments designed to neutralise TBM warheads.

A dual-mode fuse was adopted to allow the Pac-2 to maintain its effectiveness against air-breathing threats. In 1993 a PDB-3 QRP (Quick Response Configuration) software release was adopted in order to further improve effectiveness against TBMs as well as enhance command and control capabilities; it went together with radar enhancements and other modifications which provided Patriot with improved intercept capabilities for a larger area of defence against TBMs. However to become truly effective against TBMs the decision was taken to develop a brand new missile.

This required a thorough evolution of the system starting with the Configuration-1 enhancements of 1995, which included a new expanded weapons control computer and optical disk. The PDB-3 QRP software received a minor upgrade known as 'mini-sweep'. In the same year Raytheon introduced the Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile (Gem), an improved Pac-2 missile with a Low Noise Front End, an improved fuse with increased lethality and an expanded TBM engagement volume. One year later the system moved to Configuration-2, with Radar Enhancement Phase 2 improvements in communications with the addition of the JTids, positive identification, and survivability, the PDB-4 software release, providing a counter-anti radiation missile (Carm) capability. The Config-2/PDB-4 considerably increased the deployment footprint and the protected area volume as launchers could be deployed up to ten km from the radar and engagement control station. Gem-T and then Gem+ missiles were also introduced, mostly by upgrading previous Pac-2 munitions with a new low-noise oscillator for improved acquisition and tracking performances in clutter against lower radar cross-section targets.

In 2000 the Config-3 followed, together with the PDB-5 software. Config-3 consisted of seven major improvements: three were related to hardware, the Rep-3, the classification, discrimination and identification Phase 3 and the remote launch/communications enhancements upgrades, while three were related to software, Patriot/Thaad Interoperability, JTamd interoperability and launch point determination.

The seventh was the new Pac-3 missile. Lighter than the Pac-2, the Pac-3 weighs 320 kg at launch compared to the Pac-2 at 900 kg, is shorter, 5.2 metres vs. 5.31 and has a smaller diameter, 250 cm vs. 410, and its range is of 30 km with a maximum engagement altitude of 15,000 metres. Four Pac-3 missiles can be packed in a launch canister similar to that hosting a single Pac-2. thus increasing the maximum number of missiles per launcher to 16. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, as principal contractor to Raytheon, the Pac-3 is a direct-kill missile powered by a solid propellant rocket motor. It flies to an intercept point specified prior to launch via its inertial guidance navigation system and aerodynamic controls. Before reaching the intercept its Ka-band seeker acquires the target, selects the optimal aim point and terminal guidance is initiated: attitude control motors located in the missile forebody are activated to refine the missile's trajectory. Even if the Pac-3 had a shorter range, the Config-3 area coverage further increased as launchers could be deployed up to more than 35 km away from the engagement control station and the radar, the latter power output was also increased. Config-3 Patriot systems could still use Pac-2 ammunition, while the opposite was not true, as the launcher and the engagement control station needed to be specifically adapted to the new missile.

24 Pac-3 missiles were fired against TBMs in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, the Pac-2 were employed against air-breathing targets. Lockheed Martin has received a contract for a Pac-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE), which builds upon the cost reduction initiative design and includes new software, a larger and more powerful two-pulse rocket motor and larger fins. The modifications extend the missile's range to between 40 and 60 km, as well as its agility and lethality, thanks to the adoption of a lethality enhancer. The interception altitude should also be increased. Two non-intercept demonstration firings of the Pac-3 MSE took place in May and June 2008, while two intercept tests against short-range ballistic missile targets are planned for 2009. As for the ground component, further upgrades have been introduced while the software release has been developed to the PDB-5+ and then to the PDB-6 release. The US Army decided in February 2006 to align all Patriot units to the Config-3 modifications, with the so-called Pure Fleet programme, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany were the first three nations to follow. South Korea, Taiwan and Kuwait contracted the enhancements last year, with the UAE acquiring the system in 2009. Israel, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Spain currently still operate configurations not compatible with the Pac-3 missile. The Pac-3 MSE missile has also been selected as the primary interceptor for the multi-national Meads programme.


The creation of Eurosam by Aerospatiale, Thomson-CSF and Selenia in 1989, with a 50:50 participation from France and Italy, was aimed at the development of a new family of missile systems. As a result, two missiles, the Aster 15 and the Aster 30, were developed for land and naval applications. The land-based component was the Samp-T (Sol-Air Moyenne Portee-Terrestre), a medium-range area defence system using the Aster 30, made of a fire control system based on a multi-function electronic scanning radar and a vertical ground launcher mounted on a truck and capable of firing eight missiles in rapid sequence. A firing section is normally made of one radar and IFF module, with the Arabel radar from Thales, one power generation module, one engagement module and one command module (only for Italy), all shelter-contained, which can control up to six land-launch modules. Reload modules and a support section complete the firing section organisation. Launchers can be deployed up to ten km away from the engagement module, the whole section being ready to fire in about 20 minutes.

Vertically launched, the Aster is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster stage which separates from the terminal stage shortly after launch. The weapon is inertially guided up to mid-course, using target data from the multifunction radar; in the homing phase an electromagnetic seeker takes over ensuring maximum precision. The missile guidance is achieved via aerodynamic control which gives way to a direct lateral just before target intercept. This provides great agility and manoeuvrability within its domain of interception. The Aster 30 has a launch weight of 450 kg and is 4.9 metres long with a diameter of 180 cm. It can reach a maximum speed of Mach 4.5 and its envelope is over 100 km range and 20 km altitude. The Samp-T system is designed to be airlifted by C-130J.

The Samp-T has been acquired by the French Air Force and the Italian Army, which will receive respectively ten and five firing sections. In July 2008 both services concluded the first phase of the Common Technical and Operational Acceptance on two pilot sections, which allowed them to test the system and request modifications to Eurosam, which are currently being implemented. They will be returned in summer 2009, the initial operational capability being planned for late 2009 or early 2010.

A further development of the system is already planned, which will bring in Link 16, the New Generation IFF Mode 5 and the Block 1 Anti-Tactical Ballistic Missile (ATBM) capability against missiles with a 600-km range, which qualification is expected in 2010. The final operational capability should be given following the tests carried out with these upgrades. A further development is foreseen, in order to further improve the ATBM capacity of the Samp-T system; a new radar, which will anyway need to be part of a wider surveillance system, and the development of a Block 2 missile should allow to neutralise ballistic missiles with a three-km range. The Block 2 will be a high endo-atmospheric missile dedicated to ATBM missions; the envelope was chosen as exo-atmospheric systems have much bigger dimensions and are mainly static systems for protecting national territories, while the aim of Eurosam is to maintain a mobile system able to protect an area of about 25 km radius against medium-to-long-range ballistic missiles. This will require a new booster to improve its dynamic performances, a new guidance system, as the aerodynamic/direct guidance system is considered insufficient for a missile with a much higher envelope, and a better seeker probably based on infrared sensors to allow earlier target detection.

A three to four-year risk mitigation phase has been launched and technological research contracts are already underway. The missile will use the same Samp-T launcher while the radar should be the ThalesRaytheon Master M3R currently under development, which should have a 1000-km instrumented range, a 45[degrees] azimuth coverage and tracking up to 85[degrees] in elevation in sector (staring antenna) TBMD mode. The Block 2 should be ready by 2020, however a Block 1+ or NT (New Technologies) is planned for an earlier period; this will address obsolescence and will give the Samp-T the capacity to engage ballistic missiles of 1000 km range. Currently Eurosam is proposing its Samp-T to different countries, among them Finland and Qatar, where it is bidding respectively against the Slamraam and Patriot Pac-3 and which require respectively four and three firing sections.


Born in Israel as a short-range system, the Rafael Spyder has evolved into a medium-range system with a 50-km intercept range and a maximum engagement altitude of 16 km. The Spyder uses the Derby active radar beyond visual range missile and the Python 5 imaging infrared missile, both initially air-to-air weapons, hence the patch name 'Surface-to-air Python and Derby'.

In the MR medium-range version both missiles are equipped with a booster assembly, and while in the LR version the launch is carried out at slant angle providing lock-on before launch, in the MR the missiles are launched vertically and thus operate in lock-on after launch mode. The battery radar sensor unit is centred upon the EL/M-2084 S-Band 3D multi-mission radar which antenna electronically scans 60[degrees] in elevation and 360[degrees] azimuth mechanically. The radar ensures an 80-km effective range against fast jets, while its range can be increased by adding TX/RX modules to the antenna. A command and control unit is linked to the radar and can manage up to eight launchers, each loaded with eight missiles. The launchers can be deployed ten km away from the command unit, therefore a battery can cover a 90-km diameter area, controlling up to 20 missiles in flight simultaneously.


In order to save the Pac-3 ammunition of the Meads tactical ballistic missile defence system the German Air Force decided to integrate a medium-range air-defence unit to engage cheaper and easier targets. The choice fell onto a land-based version of the Iris-T air-to-air heat-seeking missile developed by Diehl BGT. Known as the Iris-T SL (Surface Launched) the missile is equipped with a larger and more powerful solid propellant rocket motor, which increases its range up to 30 km, a nose cone for drag reduction and a datalink that allows mid-course guidance, the final run being under control of the infrared seeker. The guidance section as well as the thrust-vector control, which provides the missile with superior agility, remain the same for the air-to-air version. The truck-based launcher can host eight missile canisters. The vertically-launched Iris-T SL is a stand-alone system that can easily be integrated with customer-specified fire control systems and radars. In May 2007 the German Federal Office for Military Technology and Procurement signed a [euro]123 million development contract. Last February the German government issued a request to Meads International for the integration of the Iris-T SL into the Meads. The first system firing is scheduled for late 2009.


Another air-to-air missile, the active radar target tracking Raytheon Aim-120 Amraam, was converted to the surface-to-air role following a Norwegian requirement in the mid-90s. This saw Hughes (now Raytheon) co-operating with Norsk Forsvarteknologia (now Kongsberg Defence). The new system, which was to be integrated with the Norwegian Hawk batteries, was known as Nasams. Each battery was formed by a fire direction centre, a Raytheon TPQ-36A 3-D radar and three transportable missile launchers, each with six ready-to-fire canister missiles. Following an April order for 34 systems from Norway, the US Marine Corps, which intended to replace the Avenger Stinger-based system, awarded Raytheon a contract for developing the Claws (Complementary Low-Altitude Weapon System), which instead of canister-launched missiles was based on a six-missile rail launcher mounted on a Humvee. The Spanish Army acquired four Nasams systems in 2003 and the United States one, the latter having been used to provide air-defence coverage over Washington DC.

In 2004 the US Army awarded Raytheon a contract to develop the SL-Amraam (generally referred to as the Slamraam) and one year later the approval was given for five prototypes to be built and tested. In 2006 the Netherlands ordered six Nasams II systems from Kongsberg for its Future Ground Based Air Defence programme, which will be integrated with Eads TRML-3D mobile tactical surveillance and target acquisition radar. All other systems are equipped with the ThalesRaytheon Systems X-band 3-D phased array AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar, while the Norwegian radars were upgraded at the same standard with an increased detection range of 75 km. In 2007 the system evolved to Nasams II, including an improved version of the Kongsberg fire distribution centre and the Raytheon AN/MPQ-64F1 Improved Sentinel radar with an increased range of 120 km, while retaining further growth potential of about 25% as its design allows for two further amplifier modules to be installed. All Sentinel radars in service with the US Army (the requirement was for 69 fire units and 35 integrated fire control stations), are undergoing an F1 upgrade, which also includes networking capabilities. Raytheon is currently in the last phase of contractor testing for the US Army. Industry and the service are preparing for low-rate initial production and final government-led testing. No details have been given by Raytheon about the Army configuration, however it is understood that it includes canister launched missiles, the F1 Sentinel radar and an integrated fire control station developed by Boeing.

In 2007 Raytheon announced that the battery would be capable of firing the Aim-9X infrared seeking radar, adding a shorad capability to the system. Conversely, longer ranges are being envisaged with the development of a SL-amraam ER. According to Raytheon current analysis of the final configuration are showing low risk, due to technical maturity of both the Amraam and the Evolved Sea Sparrow (since the 'ER will combine the lethality of the former with the improved kinematics of the latter). Raytheon considers that the way forward in this domain is the availability of a combined medium/extended range (over 40 km compared to the current 33) with improved altitude kill.

Raytheon is offering the Slamraam for Finland's current requirements and discussions are ongoing with the United Arab Emirates, while Greece and Turkey already have some of its components.


The Russian Buk M-2E system is the enhanced export version of the medium-range SA-17 and is based on the 9M317 semi-active radar homing missile. With a 710-kg weight at launch, it is 5.55 metres long, has a 400-cm diameter, and is able to reach 1200 m/s and withstand a 24-G load factor. The system's heart is the 9S510E command post linked to the 9S18M1-3E target detection station either by wire, up to five km, or data link, out to ten. The 3-D radar scans electronically up to 60[degrees] in elevation and mechanically in azimuth through 360[degrees]. Its declared detection range is 160 km, and rotating at 80[degrees]/s it can follow up to 50 targets. The 9S36E target illumination and guidance radar (Tigr) can be elevated up to 21 metres and covers [+ or -] 45[degrees] in azimuth. It can operate in three different elevation zones, zero to seven degrees, 7[degrees] to 14[degrees] and 14[degrees] to 52[degrees], the latter mostly for engaging ballistic missiles. Its detection range is 100 km and tracking range 80 km. Each radar can engage up to four targets. The 9A317E self-propelled fire unit carries four missiles and an illumination radar, while the loader-launcher unit carries eight missiles but lacks the radar--and for firing it must link up with a fire unit or a Tigr. A battery can be made of up to six Tigr, six self-propelled units and twelve launchers. With a 45-km maximum range and a 25-km maximum altitude, the Buk-M2E is said to have a single-shot kill probability of 90 to 95% against aircraft and helicopters, 60 to 70% against tactical ballistic missiles and 70 to 80% against cruise missiles.
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Title Annotation:Air-defence
Author:Alpo, Paul V.
Publication:Armada International
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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