Thales Begins Laser-guided Munition Tests

 - August 1, 2018, 2:27 AM
A prototype BAT-120 GL is released from the belly-mounted launcher of a Mirage 2000D, with additional dummy/test instrument weapons mounted on the rack. (photo: DGA)

Last month a Thales and DGA team conducted the first guided release of the BAT-120 GL guided munition, the company has revealed. The 35-kg (77-pound) weapon was dropped at the Biscarosse range in western France from a Dassault Mirage 2000D. During the trial, the prototype munition executed trajectory corrections in accordance with the test plan.

Developed in conjunction with the DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armements, France’s defense procurement agency), the BAT-120 GL is a laser-guided version of the BAT-120 (bombe appui tactique, tactical support bomb) weapon developed several years ago by Thomson Brandt Armements as part of a family that included the BAP-100 (bombe anti-piste, anti-runway bomb). The new munition retains the original airframe and 120-mm (4.72-inch) diameter body of the BAT-120, but integrates a laser and inertial guidance system. Utilizing an existing weapon reduces the need for testing as form fit and separation characteristics have already been cleared.

The guidance system is an evolution of the unit fitted to the Thales Aculeus LG laser-guided 68-mm (2.68-inch) rocket, comprising a semi-active laser seeker and inertial measurement unit, with associated power supply and electronics. Control is effected by four small pop-out foreplanes, with the control actuators being derived from those used in Thales’s 120-mm MGM guided mortar round. The BAT-120 GL’s long-chord, rear-mounted, pop-out wings have been redesigned from the original for improved aerodynamic performance and range.

BAT-120 GL is armed with a 10-kg warhead. Combined with the weapon’s laser-guided precision the small warhead is ideal for urban and other targets where the reduction or elimination of CDE (collateral damage effects) is a paramount concern. The compact form factor of the munition also allows large numbers to be carried. Thomson Brandt developed the SEMB (système d’emport multi bombe, multiple bomb carriage system) launcher for the original BAT-120, with two rows of three closely mounted weapons. The launcher has been adapted to the laser-guided version, and provides the digital interfaces necessary to program the weapons with laser codes and target distance information, as well as control of the release sequence. This system is contained within the launcher itself, removing the need for additional integration with the carrier platform.

At the 2017 Paris Air Show the BAT-120 GL was displayed alongside a Mirage 2000D trials aircraft that has been employed to test elements of the current mid-life update program for 55 examples of the Dassault delta-wing fighter-bomber. At the time it was known as the ASPTT (air-sol petite taille tactique, small-diameter tactical air-to-ground bomb). The modernized Mirages are expected to be the first platform to carry the new weapon operationally. The original BAT-120 has been in the Mirage 2000's armory since the 1980s, with six normally being carried on the centerline pylon.