Paris Air Show

Stand-off Missile Gets Ready for JSF

 - June 15, 2015, 3:20 PM
Roketsan’s newest stand-off missile (SOM) is adapted for internal use on Lockheed Martin’s F-35, but is also available as an external-mount system for other fighters. (Photo: David McIntosh)

Turkish missile house Roketsan expects to conduct the preliminary design review (PDR) of its SOM-J weapon this September, with subsystem design and test activities to commence in November. SOM-J is a version of the company’s SOM (stand-off missile) adapted for internal carriage in the Lockheed Martin F-35, but also available for external carriage by other aircraft.

Roketsan (Hall 2a Stand B272) received the first production contract for the original SOM version in mid-2013, having developed the weapon in conjunction with Tubitak-SAGE. The 155-mile-range stealthy cruise missile is already in service with the Turkish air force’s F-4E-2020 upgraded Phantoms and F-16C Block 40 aircraft, while Roketsan has a cooperation agreement with Airbus Defence and Space to study integration with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

In 2014, the company signed a deal with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control to collaborate on the development and marketing of the SOM-J derivative. Compared with the original SOM, the F-35 weapon has kinked rear fins, an additional set of small rear fins, revised main wings of shorter span, reprofiled nose section and the engine intake moved from underneath the missile body to the side.

Many of these changes were driven by the necessity to fit the missile into the F-35’s weapons bay. It sports a combination of guidance systems, including GPS, inertial, terrain reference and imaging infrared seeker.

Phases I (feasibility) and IIA (risk reduction) have been completed, and the Phase IIB studies have begun this month, building up to PDR. The first flight tests are due to begin in the second quarter of 2017, initially conducted from the F-16 Block 40. Development and integration with the F-35 are due to be completed in 2018.

In addition to showcasing SOM-J, Roketsan is displaying a range of its capabilities here at Le Bourget. Among them is the new Teber laser-guided bomb kit, which was publicly unveiled at last month’s IDEF show in Istanbul.

This kit modifies 250-pound Mk 81 and 500-pound Mk 82 bombs into guided weapons that can be aimed with an accuracy of less than 10-foot/3-m circular error probable (CEP), and with capability against targets traveling at up to 60 mph/90 kmh. The Teber kit adds a body strake section, laser seeker on the nose and a tail guidance kit with inertial navigation and GPS/GNSS receivers.

Roketsan has developed the UMTAS weapon that is intended primarily for anti-armour duties, with lock-on before and after launch capabilities over a range of up to five miles. The initial version has a laser seeker (L-UMTAS), but an imaging infrared version is also being developed.

The missile can be fired from a variety of air, sea and land platforms but the initial application of L-UMTAS is the Turkish army’s new TAI T-129 Atak helicopter. Successful firing tests from the T-129 against land targets have been undertaken, followed recently by firings from SH-60 Seahawk helicopters against maritime targets. Deliveries to the Turkish armed forces are expected to start later this year.

Also forming part of the T-129’s armoury is the Cirit laser-guided rocket, which has also been selected by the UAE for use on its Iomax Archangel border patrol aircraft. Currently in use with the Turkish army’s Bell AH-1W Cobras and on Airbus Helicopters EC635s, Cirit is a contender for the German army’s laser rocket requirement to equip the EC665 Tiger attack helicopter. Roketsan has teamed with MBDA Deutschland to bid for this requirement.