Roland was developed in response to a 1963 French and German requirement for a low-level mobile missile system to protect mobile field formations and fixed, high-value targets such as airfields. Development began as a study by Nord Aviation of France and Bolkow of Germany of a system called SABA in France and P-250 in Germany. The two companies formed a joint development project in 1964 and later (as Aérospatiale of France and MBB of Germany) founded the Euromissile company for this and other missile programs.
The Roland I finally entered operational service with the French Army in April 1977, while the all-weather Roland II was first fielded by the German Army in 1978, followed by the French Army in 1981. The long delays and increasing costs combined with inflation meant Roland was never procured in the numbers originally anticipated. But by the early 1980s among low-level AA missile the European option was the Roland, which is very much superior to the American Chaparral. The ROLAND 2 weapon system is intended for anti-aircraft defence of armoured and mechanized the units to counter aircraft flying to nearly Mach 1.5 and hovering helicopters. ROLAND is generally employed either in complement of the coverage of HAWK defense of zones and corridors not defended by the HAWK, or in prolongation of the HAWK front. ROLAND ensures the overall defense of a zone of 100 km2 vis-a-vis a threat consisted by a patrol of 4 planes or 2 patrols acting at more than 20 second intervals. Deployed on a tracked vehicle derived from the tank AMX 30, it comprises a radar with a range of 16 km, a sighting tube with an infra-red locator that measures the difference between the missile in flight and the line of sight of the fire control radar, and a computer antenna for remote control
Two arm-beams for launching carry each one a missile in its launching tube, and two ammunition stores for munitions each contain one 4 shot mechanism forautomatic unloading of the arm-beam. The crew of the vehicle consists of three man.
Three operating modes are available in the ROLAND 2: the optical mode; the mode radar; and the optical mode recopy-radar or radar-recopy-optics. Whatever operating mode is chosen, the target is detected by the radar, search in site and the continuation of the target after acquisition is carried out manually in radar mode. In the third mode, one of the means of continuation is controlled to the different one, which facilitates their communication.
After the firing, the optics or the radar remain pointed at the target, the computer generates the commands for guidance by using two different groups of measurements: starting from the measurement angular velocities of pointing and programmed values of the distance precise alignment is obtained while adding to the result preceding the commands necessary to the correction by the real variations of the missile compared to the axis of aiming measured by the infra-red goniometer (optical mode), or compared to the direction of the target the commands are transmitted to the missile by the transmitter of remote control.
The missile is ready with the shooting inside its container (tactical packing), itself placed under the arms launchers of the tank. The vehicle has two missiles ready for firing and eight in the trunks.
In December 1976 the US Department of Defense approved the continuation of the Roland missile system technology transfer, fabrication, and test period with a ceiling of $265 million. Progress in making four prototypes was satisfactory; all schedules were met. Four fire-unit modules were in various stages of completion in the fall of 1977 and one module had been mated to and integrated with the M109 tracked vehicle chassis. The first U.S. built Roland missiles were completed, and four were shipped to Europe to be test fired by the European Roland II fire unit.
This all—weather, short-range air defense system was produced in the United States under license from France and Germany. Joint testing was conducted and a Joint Improvement Program was initiated to simplify engineering change procedures. Previously, low-rate production (LRP) had been approved in FY 79 and FY 80. The initial LRP contracts were let in October 1979, with planned procurement based upon the eventual production of fire units and missiles to support a four-battalion force structure concept.
The American ROLAND program was terminated in September 1981. Budget decisions by President Carter reduced quantities at first to a two-battalion force, then to one battalion. The DOD budget approved by President Reagan in March 1981 originally redirected the program back to four battalions, until it was decided to terminate this effort. Although the total number of ROLAND systems was reduced to 38 from the originally planned 184 due to budget considerations, the ROLAND system became operational in the US Army during 1982.
SysFla closes the capability gap of the Bundeswehr in the short range air defence sector which was opened up by the retirement of the air defence systems ROLAND (2005) and GEPARD (2010), and which continues to grow on account of the limited in-service life of STINGER (through approx. 2018).
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