German-Israeli Smart Bomb Project Unveiled

 - July 11, 2011, 5:20 AM
Return of the slew wing: a model of Pilum was on display at the Paris Air Show. (Photo: Chris Pocock)

Diehl BGT Defence of Germany has partnered with Rafael of Israel to launch a new standoff weapon with dual-mode guidance called “Pilum.”

Named, after the Roman army’s javelin, the Pilum smart bomb brings together the airframe of Diehl BGT’s HOSBO (German acronym for “high-performance penetrator”) with the guidance systems of Rafael’s Spice. The co-development furthers the collaboration between the two companies, which are already involved (along with Rheinmetall) in the EuroSpike venture that markets the Rafael Spike anti-tank missile in Europe.

Spice is a modification kit that turns dumb bombs (typically the 2,000-pound Mk 84) into smart weapons, and is in use with Israel’s F-15 and F-16 fighters. It employs inertial/GPS and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) guidance to give three operational modes: coordinates-only using inertial/GPS; auto-tracking EO/IR, in which the TV or imaging infrared channels automatically find and track a target by scene-matching; and man-in-the-loop, in which the weapon can be guided from the launch aircraft by means of a two-way datalink.

Diehl developed the HOPE (German acronym for “high-performance penetrator”) and HOSBO family of modular glide weapons with either penetration (HOPE) or multi-purpose (HOSBO) warheads. Although unpowered, the weapons employ a slew-wing configuration to provide standoff glide range, and have four fins for high maneuverability. The first test launch with a HOPE was conducted in September 2008.

Bringing HOSBO and Spice together provides a precision weapon with standoff capability against a range of targets, including those that are moving, according to the companies. One platform that is being targeted by the marketing team is the Typhoon, although the question of whether it would be exportable to Arab Typhoon operators has not been answered. The weapon has also been considered as ideal for Indian Air Force requirements.