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IRIS-SL surface-launched guided missile

Germany will supply Ukraine with the IRIS-T air defence system, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said 01 June 2022, following pleas from Kyiv and German opposition parties to step up heavy weapons deliveries. "Most recently, the government has decided that we will deliver the most modern air defence system that Germany has in the form of the IRIS-T," Scholz told lawmakers in the Bundestag, without specifying the exact model.

"In the coming weeks, we will carry out further deliveries of weapons. For example, the government decided to supply IRIS-T systems - this is the most modern air defense system that Germany has," the chancellor said. Also, according to him, a highly modern radar station will be delivered to Ukraine. He did not give more precise information about the timing and volume of deliveries.

Ukraine had asked for 10 IRIS-T SLM systems, but they can be manufactured only in 3-4 years, so it is still difficult to say in what volume the first delivery of the system can take place. "It will take a while, months," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told lawmakers, adding the system, made by arms manufacturer Diehl, had initially been intended for "another country".

As the BILD newspaper wrote earlier , these systems can only be deployed in Ukraine from November. The missile launch range is 40 km, with its help at an altitude of 20 km it is possible to shoot down planes, helicopters, drones and other targets.

Besides its role as aircraft armament, IRIS-T is currently also employed as a surface-launched guided missile, e.g. in the ground-based air defence system IRIS-T SLS for object and short-range protection. Air defence systems are used to protect the population, important buildings, objects as well as ground troops against attacks from the air. Particularly ground-based air defence is capable of providing continuous area protection over the long term. For the Bundeswehr´s Tactical Air Defence System (TLVS), Diehl Defence developed the surface-launched IRIS-T SL, an upgraded version of the IRIS-T missile equipping fighter aircraft of numerous countries worldwide. In combination with various radar and command systems, IRIS-T SL offers the capabilities and benefits of an advanced air defence system. An entire IRIS-T SLM system was tested successfully for the first time in 2014 in the presence of international representatives.

Moreover, the Norwegian Air Force for the first time demonstrated IRIS-T`s capability of also engaging sea targets in a test firing in 2016. Diehl Defence is prime contractor in the IRIS-T program, producing the missile since 2005 in cooperation with industrial partners from six European program nations.

Using the IRIS-T air-to-air guided missile in the surface-to-air version represents an effective and cost favorable solution for the implementation of a short and very-short range air defence system. For this purpose, an adapted software is installed automatically on the IRIS-T guided missile when loaded onto the launcher. By this approach, the use of missiles already procured and introduced into service can be significantly expanded. In some Northern European countries, IRIS-T SLS versions for mobile and stationary deployment are already under contract.

The new surface-to-air guided missile IRIS-T SL (Surface Launched) is an upgraded version of the IRIS-T air-to-air guided missile. Contracted by the Bundeswehr, it was developed for Tactical Air Defence and was qualified for in-service use in 2017. Compared with the basic version, IRIS-T SL features an enhanced rocket motor for extended range. The newly introduced data link, in connection with a GPS-based inertial navigation system, allows controlling the missile from a combat center. During terminal approach the missile guides itself directly to the target.

The complex includes a vertical-type launcher, a target designation system and a fire control system. The complex is able to work both in automatic and manual modes. The vertical launcher is located on a highly mobile tractor, and its weight and size characteristics allow it to be transported by air on C-130 transport planes. The modified air-to-air missiles of the IRIS-T are located in lightweight fiberglass transport-launch containers. The loading of eight such containers is carried out using a transport-charging machine in approximately 10 minutes. The rocket warhead ensures sufficient safety during transportation and loading of containers.

A vertically launched rocket with an infrared homing head (IR GOS) in the initial part of the trajectory is aimed at the target using the Giraffe AMB all-round viewing radar developed by the Swedish company Saab. This station provides the ability to detect targets at a distance of more than 100 kilometers and an altitude of more than 20 kilometers, while simultaneously accompanying 150 targets.

Diehl’s modular IRIS-T SLM and IRIS-T SLS air defence systems offer economically attractive solutions for reliable protection against a wide range of air threats. Moreover, this air defence system is ideally suited for modernization of existing or implementation of new systems. The heart of the air defence system is the IRIS-T SL guided missile. The further development of the IRIS-T air-to-air guided missile was specifically designed for ground-based air defence. Selective adaptations in aerodynamics and rocket motor allow an extraordinary range of 40 km and an altitude coverage of 20 km. Thrust-vector control enables maximum lateral acceleration directly after launch, thus allowing the engagement of targets at very short range. The proven, imaging IR seeker permits a high-precision terminal approach with extraordinary direct hit probability.

The IRIS-T SL missile is launched from a multi-function container (for storage, transport and firing) providing 360° protection against aircraft, helicopters, drones and other missiles. It can easily be integrated into various existing and future air defence systems through connection to fire control systems via standardized and software-based interfaces.

IRIS-T SLM is a tactical medium-range air defense system based on the IRIS-T SL (SAM) anti-aircraft missile, as well as radar and fire control systems. The IRIS-T SL was originally designed as an additional missile for MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defense System), a ground-mobile air and missile defense system intended to replace the Patriot missile system.

This new missile system has been offered by Diehl BGT Defense to export customers since the beginning of 2011. IRIS-T SLM complements the IRIS-T SLS short-range air defense system in the Diehl BGT Defense product portfolio and has been in service with Sweden for several years, and is expected to be used in Germany and Egypt.

IRIS-T is considered the most advanced Western air defense system, but there are questions about its actual effectiveness. On Wednesday, June 1, the military observer for Izvestia, Alexei Ramm, spoke about this. “Formally, IRIS-T is considered the most modern Western air defense system. Currently, there are two modifications of this anti-aircraft missile system. The short-range modification is capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 25 km, and the medium-range modification works on air targets at a distance of up to 40 km, ”he said. However, despite the admiring statements of foreign experts, there are questions about the real effectiveness of this air defense system, the military observer added.

For example, he said that the IRIS-T is based on a converted air-to-air missile, and not a specially designed anti-aircraft munition, so there is no guarantee that the IRIS-T will cope with low-altitude maneuverable targets. “Also on this air defense system, the aiming and guidance system is quite original. The rocket corrects its flight according to the GPS signal, and the infrared homing head is switched on right next to the target. Therefore, there are suspicions that electronic warfare systems, as well as passive traps, can become a serious problem for IRIS-T ammunition, ”concluded Ramm.



360° protection
effective range 40 km
altitude coverage 20 km
  • Small inner dead zone due to thrust-vector control
  • High direct hit capability
  • High firing rate and quick response capability
  • All-weather capability
  • Imaging, interference-resistant IR seeker
  • Smokeless & insensitive solid propulsion system
  • Target data transmission and mission abort via uplink
  • specifications


    Weight89 kg
    Length -3 meters
    Diameter127 mm
    Warhead11.4 kg, high-explosive fragmentation
    Enginesolid fuel
    Maximum rangeup to 40 km
    Maximum target altitudeup to 5 km
    Costabout $430,000 per unit


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    Page last modified: 01-06-2022 19:26:11 ZULU