Successful first test firing of Thales' new Laser-Guided Air-to-Ground Rocket
12 November 2008
On 8 October, TDA, a Thales subsidiary specialized in combat systems and munitions, successfully fired its first laser-guided rocket, as part of a DGA (French Defense Procurement Agency) assessment program. Conducted at the CELM test center, the test firing was the first of a series planned for 2008 and 2009. The operational objective for the French armed forces - Army and Air Force - is to have, by 2013, a 68mm rocket that can hit targets with "metric precision" and reduced collateral effects.
At stake in the program was validation of the performance of a 68-mm laser-guided rocket for use in the same launchers as the unguided air-to-ground rocket of the same caliber now widely used on TIGRE helicopters. Intended in particular to hit lightly armored fixed and mobile targets and infrastructure, this new type of high-precision rocket will complete the existing line of munitions, already capable of performing numerous missions such as:
- Close fire support,
- Search and destroy missions of enemy ground-to-air defense,
- Surveillance and coastal defense against light craft,
- Target marking for the artillery
In addition to its integrated laser-designation guidance/control system, the new rocket includes the same advanced technological features as the unguided rocket, among them the programming, ignition by induction and tamperproofing functions.
According to Guy Lefebvre, CEO of Thales TDA: "This new rocket with its metric precision will reduce the vulnerability of the carriers while greatly increasing the airborne destruction capability, all for a much lower cost than a missile. In short, it perfectly meets the new needs of the armed forces."
In 2006, Thales had already fired rockets with GPS-enhanced accuracy, in the 68-mm and 2.75" (70mm) caliber. Having succeeded at 68 mm, Thales is now in a position to assess, with its Belgian subsidiary, a 2.75" laser-guided rocket concept. A firing with this caliber is scheduled for mid-November.