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The SIDEWINDER AIM-9L guided missile has been made suitable for use against mobile ground targets thanks to new laser guidance, contractor Diehl Defence has said in a press release. This is the result of a firing campaign conducted by the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support in cooperation with the Swedish procurement agency the FMV – supported by a team of experts from the developer and manufacturer Diehl Defence.

The Laser Guided SIDEWINDER (LaGS) was deployed from a Saab JAS 39 GRIPEN at the Vidsel firing range. During the second proof firing, a stationary ground target and two moving targets were successfully engaged with one direct hit.

In 2016, Diehl Defence received a development contract for the reconstruction of the AIM-9L SIDEWINDER into a “short-range powered effector” in order to engage targets on the ground. For this purpose, the missile’s guidance and control unit was fundamentally modernised. The infrared detector and signal processing of the previous seeker head were replaced by a Semi Active Laser (SAL) sensor with modern digital signal processing.

By using modern technologies, a proven but now aging weapon system could thus be upgraded for a new task at comparatively low cost in order to expand the operational spectrum of flying weapon systems. Having achieved all LaGS requirements in the firing campaign, Diehl Defence now hopes to receive the envisaged purchase contract.

Diehl Defence has already produced various versions of the US SIDEWINDER in large numbers for European NATO partners since the early 1960s. Today, Diehl Defence’s portfolio includes repairs and modernisations for the internationally successful air-to-air missile.