TechSlovenia rearms with anti-aircraft system used in Ukraine

Slovenia rearms with anti-aircraft system used in Ukraine

Images source: © imago | eventfoto54

10:57 AM EST, December 8, 2023

Europe's arms industry has found an ideal testing and marketing ground in the ongoing war in Ukraine. The efficiency of the IRIS-T SLM system in this region most likely influenced Slovenia's decision. This article provides details about the IRIS-T SLM anti-aircraft system.

The Ministry of Defense of Slovenia reports that an agreement was signed in Berlin concerning the acquisition of an unspecified number of IRIS-T SLM anti-aircraft systems from Diehl Defence. The purchase was made possible through the European Shield Anti-Missile Initiative (ESSI), with Slovenia being the first country to make such a defense purchase through this framework.

It's noteworthy that the ESSI initiative, proposed by Germany in 2022, besides renewing long-neglected anti-aircraft and anti-missile capabilities, also catalyzes the German defense industry which produces very short and short-range systems.

Combat-tested: the efficient IRIS-T SLM system

The IRIS-T SLM is globally recognized as one of the most technologically advanced short-range anti-aircraft defense systems. These ground-based systems by Diehl Defence are a product of the short-range air-to-air missile IRIS-T, which was launched into service by the Luftwaffe in 2005.

The IRIS-T missile resulted from a European project financed by Germany, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Italy, and briefly by Canada, although it is located across the Atlantic. This was developed as an alternative to the well-known American AIM-9 Sidewinder missile.

The outcome of this project is a remarkably modern missile with a 15.53-mile range featuring exceptional maneuverability, courtesy of thrust vectoring technology. Along with aggressive control surfaces, the IRIS-T missile can endure overloads far exceeding 60 G.

This missile's versatility allows it to not only shoot down aircraft, but also to intercept medium-range missiles. It is resistant to self-defense systems utilized by aircraft, thanks to an advanced seeker head equipped with a fourth-generation IR or Imaging Infra-Red sensor, that detects the target's thermal image, not just a heat point.

The IRIS-T missile's warhead has advanced algorithms that allow it to execute deceptive attacks. This tactic forces the target to lose energy while performing evasive maneuvers before conducting the actual assault.

Like the Norwegians who developed the NASAMS system, Germany decided these missiles could also serve as a land-to-air strike system. Germany developed two versions of the IRIS-T SL – the SLS variant using air missiles and the later perfected SLM system, which completed its testing in 2014.

This second system utilizes redesigned missiles with an extended range of up to 24.85 miles, achieved by using a larger rocket engine and adding a communication link and a comprehensive GPS and INS navigation system. The system's effectiveness was proven in Ukraine, where it achieved a 100% shoot down record. The introduction of the IRIS-T SLM will represent significant progress for Slovenia, as their current systems are outdated German Roland FRR systems.

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