IRIS-T: new anti-aircraft weapon for Ukraine
IRIS-T: new anti-aircraft weapon for Ukraine
© Diehl Defence

| Gaétan Powis | Source : Air&Cosmos 477 mots

IRIS-T: new anti-aircraft weapon for Ukraine

Ukraine has very recently received the German anti-aircraft system IRIS-T SLM. This modern missile system can destroy a large number of different targets and represents a real step up for Ukrainian air defense.

A modern anti-aircraft system

In June, when Germany published an official list of its equipment delivered to Ukraine (more info in this article), the mention of IRIS-T SLM (for InfraRed Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled Surface Launched Medium range) surprised many, as Berlin was under fire at the time for its low deliveries. This anti-aircraft system is one of the most modern on the market, but it had to be built before it could be delivered. 

Or, this October 10 in the early afternoon, the German Ministry of Defense officially announced in a tweet that the first IRIS-T has been delivered to Ukraine. This is the first modern medium-range anti-aircraft system received by the Ukrainians. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are currently heavily reliant on anti-aircraft systems of Soviet origin but slightly modernized. However, it should be noted that this delivery also coincides with the upcoming arrival of NASAMS systems offered by the United States (article on the subject). In fact, Ukraine is on the verge of holding a capability to create a no-fly zone using modern systems, capable of launching surface-to-air missiles capable of destroying a wide range of aerial targets.

Some technical details

The IRIS-T SL (for Surface Launched) is a state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missile-launch system. It was developed by the German company Diehl BGT Defence to meet the needs of the German Army. It was looking for a missile launcher system capable of destroying many targets:

  • Aircraft
  • Helicopters
  • Drones
  • Missiles
  • Large-caliber rockets

The IRIS-T SL refers to the missile used by the launcher. It is originally a short-range air-to-air missile but has been modified and upgraded to a ground-to-air configuration. This missile differs from the air-to-air version by its cone-shaped tip. It uses a dual sensor; during most of its flight, it is guided by the battery's radar and then switches to its infrared sensor during the terminal phase of flight. The missile is housed in a container for easy storage and transport. It also has a 360° firing capability. Two versions exist; a short-range IRIS-T SL missile or the medium-range IRIS-T SLM version (version received by the Ukrainians). As the system is still new (entered service with the German Armed Forces in 2017), some details are not available. The SLM (medium-range) version has a range of 40 kilometers with a maximum altitude of 20 kilometers.

A standard battery includes a radar, several launch vehicles and a command post that coordinates the firing. It should be noted that Dhiel is showcasing the system on its MAN SX 45 8x8 truck, but the platform containing the eight IRIS-T containers can be integrated on other chassis.

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