Delilah was originally fielded as an airborne decoy, but by the mid-1990s had been further developed to create an air-to-surface tactical missile. This was fielded in several versions, including the STAR-1 anti-radiation missile. The manufacturer was unwilling to describe these as cruise missiles, but preferred the term 'air-to-ground standoff powered UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)'. Cleared for carriage on the F-4 Phantom and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, Delilah has been in service as an air-launched weapon since the early 1990s with Israel's F-16D and upgraded F-4E aircraft.
TAAS-Israel Industries unveilled a new air-to-ground missile, the Delilah-AR [anti-radiation], at the Paris Air Show in June 1995. The Delilah-AR, also known as the Star-1, is an advanced avionics anti-radiation missile equipped with a passive radar seeker capable of pinpointing and destroying radar air defense systems. The Delilah-AR missile, classified as an active radar, is constructed on the existing Delilah platform, a passive jet-propelled UAV that is designed to jam radar systems and is used by the US Navy. The Delilah-AR complements the Samson TALD (Tactical Air Launched Decoy).
Israel Military Industries (IMI) has developed ground- and ship-launched versions of its Delilah air-launched cruise missile. These are designated Delilah-GL and Delilah-SL. An additional boost engine has been to added to turn Delilah into a surface-launched cruise missile (Delilah-GL) and a sea-launched weapon (Delilah-SL). Delilah-GL has most of the same features as its airborne predecessor. It can be fitted with interchangeable forward-looking infra-red/colour charge-coupled device or electro-optical seekers for target acquisition and guidance and is capable of identifying targets at ranges of up to 16km. The seekers have a target auto-tracking capability, enabling Delilah-GL to hit moving targets. The Delilah has a standard 30kg high-explosive warhead, but can be fitted with a range of payloads.
In terms of its structure, the Delilah is almost identical to a typical air-to-ground missile. The front section includes the homing parts, which in the first models were televisional. Thus, the head of the missile includes an antenna for general guidance towards its target. The next section holds the various electronic parts including guidance systems and flight control. The part behind this holds the warhead and fuel supply. The final section is made up of a jet engine capable of producing 165 pounds of thrust and the control surfaces that turn the missile towards its target.
Delilah is powered by a Bet Shemesh Engines BS 175 single-shaft turbojet, which gives the missile a maximum speed of Mach 0.9 and a maximum operating altitude of 30,000ft. Officially the weapon has a range of 250km, but Israeli defence sources have described it as a "300km-plus weapon". Navigation is fully autonomous, being based on a combination of Global Positioning System (GPS) and inertial navigation. Once in the target area, the missile activates its seeker, which can be forward-looking infrared (IR) or an electro-optical (EO) sensor. These are interchangeable; both have the resolution needed to identify targets at ranges of up to 16km and incorporate a target auto-tracking capability which gives the weapon the ability to hit moving targets by day (with the EO seeker) or by night (with the IR seeker). In trials, the missile has engaged a target moving at 50km/h.
It possesses a "Man in the Loop" mechanism, where the navigator controls the final direction of the missile. However, in the case of the Delilah there's a key difference: as the missile makes the final approach, if the target has moved or if there's a need to cancel the attack (for example, if civilians are spotted near the target), all the navigator needs to do is press a button in the cockpit which instructs the missile to abort its approach and return to linger. Thus, situations in which a missile is wasted on a target that has disappeared, or in which civilians are accidentally killed can be prevented. In the same way the use of a missile on a target that has already been destroyed can be prevented, saving valuable ammunition.
The Delilah missile's ability to both loiter and carry out repeated passes makes it the ideal weapon for attacking mobile sites like rocket launches. In a situation in which the target's precise location is not known with any certainty, for example if it is a portable anti-aircraft launcher or land-land missile launcher, the Delilah can be launched in the general direction of the target, based on intelligence reports. The missile would fly in the direction of the target, all the while surveying the territory with its homing equipment. The image appears in the cockpit, the Delilah serving effectively as a homing UAV. The Delilah patrols above the territory searching for its target.
The missile’s long range can be exchanged for a prolonged stay in the air above the target. When the navigator identifies the target, or what is thought to be the target, he instructs the missile to fly towards it. If he has identified it correctly then the missile is directed to attack it. If he has not found the target then the missile is instructed to abort its approach and return to searching. When a launcher is identified, it will be immediately struck by the missile. If it's discovered that the target has not been identified correctly, for example if it's a dummy launcher or another vehicle that looks like a launcher (such as a petrol tanker), the missile receives the instructions to end its approach and continue to search for the real target.
Different generations of a weapon often receive different names. For example, the first two generations of Rafael's Shafrir air-to-air missile were known as the Shafrir 1 and 2, whereas the next three generations were known as the Python 3, 4 and 5. However, for Delilah missiles this is not the case. Primarily for security reasons, it was decided that all of the missiles in the Delilah family would have the same name, not even appended with a generation number. However, the Delilah which the Air Force received in the nineties is not the same that it receives today, despite the fact that their external appearance is almost identical. The differences between different models of the Delilah are in fact so fundamental that they can be seen as totally different kinds of missile, despite their shared name.
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