Cobham Mission Systems Have Agreed on a Joint Market Approach with Rafael and Diehl Combining Their Launchers with the Latest Missiles

Date: Issue 94 - September 2019

With over 50 years’ experience as a leading supplier of Weapons Carriage and Release (weapons suspension and release) systems, Cobham is instrumental in the advancement of weapons release technology for the Air Forces and Navy’s of many foreign governments. Cobham products offer superior design and integration capabilities across a range of solutions, including; Missile Launchers, Bomb Racks, Ejection Launchers, single and multi-rack with both Pneumatic and Pyrotechnic activation. Cobham combines low-weight with high-performance, reliability, maintainability and low through-life costs. Cobham’s Air-to-Ground Weapons Carriage and Release products for combat aircraft include a range of rail-launchers and bomb racks which are compatible with a wide selection of smart and dumb munitions including Small Diameter Bomb, Brimstone and Hellfire missiles. Cobham’s Air-to-Ground Weapons Carriage and Release systems are available for single or multiple weapons carriage applications in a range of configurations to suit all customer needs. The company’s bomb racks feature pyrotechnic, pneumatic, or release systems of stores from 250lbs to 3,500lbs in single, dual and triple rail launcher configurations. Cobham also has practice bomb carriage systems for use in training environments. Cobham’s Air-to-Air Weapons Carriage and Release equipment plays a key role in the facilitation of Defensive Counter Air (DCA) and Offensive Counter Air (OCA) missions. Cobham’s Air-to-Air weapons carriage and release products (comprising Air-to-Air Missile Eject Launcher [MEL] and Air-to-Air Missile Rail Launcher) are compatible with short range, Medium range and beyond visual range missiles including; AIM-9, ASRAAM, IRIS-T, A-Darter, AMRAAM and Meteor. 

Developed to meet the highly dynamic modern fighter jet manoeuver environment, the lightweight and ITAR-Free Air-to-Air Missile Rail Launcher Fox-10 is the principle design for Cobham’s Advanced Missile Launcher Family. Weighing just 33kg the Fox-10 has a forward umbilical connection and is designed to carry both Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (SRAAM) and some Beyond-Visual-Range Missiles (BVRAAM) up to a missile mass of 125kg. The Fox-10 Advanced Missile Launcher is suitable for fast jets, rotary wing and unmanned air vehicles and its lightweight design is ideally suited for carriage on pylon stations in either a single or twin mount configuration. The Fox-10 Air-to-Air Missile Rail Launcher is also suitable for installation at the wing-tip, within side weapons bays, with UCAV platforms and on rotary wing aircraft.

Cobham introduced its brand-new Air-to-Air Missile Rail Launcher Fox-10 for the first-time during the 2019 Paris Air Show and has agreed to non-exclusive arrangements with Rafael and Diehl to combine their missile capabilities with its Advanced Missile Launcher Family. Cobham has also offered Fox-10 as part of the SARE solution for TF-X (Turkish Fighter) Program. TUSAS is also looking for twin missile mounting adaptor for the heavy rail launchers, which Cobham is also bidding for. SARE is the abbreviation used in Turkey for Suspension and Release Equipment – which Cobham calls it Weapons Carriage and Release (WC&R) Equipment. Main Contractor TUSAS will soon launch an international tender to procure an undisclosed quantity of Suspension and Release Equipment (SARE) for integration onto Turkish Fighter prototypes and production aircraft. The SARE solution for TF-X refers to the suite of equipment required to meet the requirements for carriage and release of a variety of weapons and stores in a variety of locations inside and outside the aircraft. According to sources the proposal is also covers an option for co-design and co-production of some launchers in Turkey. Cobham, which also secured a contract in August 2017 to provide Missile Eject Launchers for the South Korean KF-X fighter aircraft is one of the bidders for this tender.

On 17 June 2019 as the world’s leading supplier of critical control solutions Cobham Mission Systems (CMS) have agreed with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems which develops, produces and delivers Air-to-Air (A2A) missiles for more than 65 years, to a non-exclusive arrangement that will enable a joint approach to combine Rafael’s missile capabilities with Cobham launchers. The company senior representatives Mr. Pini YUNGMAN, EVP and GM Air and Missile Defence Systems and Mr. Shachar GRINBERG, VP Air Defence and A2A Weapons for Rafael and Mr. Jim BARBER, Sector President Cobham Mission Systems and Mr. Paul WATSON, SVP and GM for Cobham Wimborne BU shook hands in regard to the arrangement an the Rafael chalet at the 2019 Paris Air Show.

Cobham said that early products for integration will include Rafael’s well-established I-Derby BVRAAM in combination with the CMS Fox-10 Lightweight (33kg) Advanced Missile Launcher with clearances for the Python-5 SRAAM on Fox-10 to follow. According to a press release issued by Cobham on 17 June 2019, “The agreement between Rafael and CMS will bring significant customer benefits as the proven missile and launcher combinations will eliminate product integration issues, reduce program risk and reveal wider savings. Working together in this way will reduce response time and improve the technical solution options.”

Regarding the agreement Steve HARRIS, CMS Business Development Director, said: “Fox-10 is a high-performance system, which provides customers with a lightweight, state of the art weapons interface compatible with the latest Air-to-Air missiles.” Shachar SHOHAT, Director of Marketing and BD at Rafael’s Air & Missile Defence Division, said: Rafael’s Air-to-Air customers include 13 Air Forces worldwide. Rafael has developed and fielded five generations of Short-Range Air-to-Air missiles and two generations of Medium-Range BVR Air-to-Air missiles. These missiles have participated in multiple high-intensity conflicts, with many interceptions of enemy aircraft, including fighters, helicopters & UAVs.”

In an 18 June press release, CMS said that it has agreed with Diehl to a non-exclusive arrangement that will enable a joint approach to combine Diehl missile capabilities with Cobham launchers. According to a press release early products planned for this approach will include Diehl’s well-established IRIS-T SRAAM in combination with the CMS Fox-10 Advanced Missile Launcher.

During Paris Air Show on 18 June we approached Steve HARRIS, CMS Business Development Director and also the architect of the arrangement between CMS and Rafael to get first-hand information on Fox-10 Advanced Missile Launcher and Cobham’s approach to the Turkish Fighter Program.

Defence Turkey: In your approach arranged with Diehl and Rafael, the first phase covers only air-to-air munitions. Is there any plan for the utilization of a similar approach in Diehl or Raphael’s other type of munitions including air-to-ground, air-to surface etc.? 

Steve HARRIS: Yes, so this the start of the journey and air-to-air weapons are the first priority.  We have plans with Rafael to integrate their air to air weapons with our rail launcher and then later, to integrate them with an eject launcher. We are also working with Diehl for air to air weapons but there is absolutely no reason why we couldn’t take this approach with any product between the two companies.  It’s a concept that we’re happy to run with.   

Defence Turkey: You have just underlined that in this approach you are taking out some integration risk (integration of the missile to the launcher) and the associated cost. So, what about the test and certification process? You are also responsible for this issue.

Steve HARRIS: We will certify our products as we always do, and that certification will take account of the fact that we’ve already integrated the weapon on the launcher. So, we will have completed the vibration and strength testing and all of the environmental testing – the customer can select the missile knowing that the missile and launcher combination is qualified for use. This only then leaves the customer to integrate the missile and launcher combination on their aircraft – but they can do this knowing some of the usual program and cost risk has been eliminated.

Defence Turkey: Does your agreement with Rafael and Diehl have a specific target market?  Any limitations? 

Steve HARRIS: No constraints and it is not exclusive. For Cobham, we are clear that the customer often makes a missile selection early in their procurement process and the launcher is often considered later – or the onus is placed on the missile Prime to bring a launcher.  By working with the missile Primes, Cobham can position to mutual advantage and the customer has better choices earlier in the program. In regards the customer base, we all recognize there are often demands for ITAR-Free products and this is where our product base perfectly supports the missile manufacturers and their customers.

Defence Turkey: So, the missile manufacturer may offer a choice of launcher provider to its customers for selection. And if the customers select your launcher solution will they contact directly with you or with missile manufacturer?

Steve HARRIS: The missile manufacturer will always have a choice as to which launcher to offer the customer. If it is a Cobham product, we will then work together with the customer to provide a great, low-risk solution. The commercial approach is flexible but most likely to present the customer with a single contract arrangement to purchase a complete solution.  We do anticipate, in parallel with this, a separate Through-Life Solution to be available direct from Cobham. 

Defence Turkey: You are allowing the customer to not have to consider integration costs and risks. Does your launcher solution also feature technological improvements over the existing launcher solutions on the market?

Steve HARRIS: Our new launcher utilizes the latest technology in design and manufacture and as a consequence, it has an impressive carriage capability (currently up to 125kg) and a very low mass (33kg). This compares very well to others in this class of launcher that typically weigh around 38-40kgs. All Cobham products are proved with an internationally recognized certificate of design and performance.  

Defence Turkey: Will the same launcher be used for Rafael and Diehl missiles? 

Steve HARRIS: Yes.  Our electronic control unit is capable of communicating with more than one missile and this capability is being expanded as the market requirements become clear. It will eventually be possible to include weapons from other missile Primes should there be a need.

Defence Turkey: And are your launchers are ITAR-Free? 

Steve HARRIS: Yes, they are ITAR-Free. Cobham UK is very clear that Turkey has a strong preference to avoid products with ITAR restrictions and thus we can meet that need. Additionally, we own all the Intellectual Property and can make independent choices about how we design, develop and manufacture or products.

Defence Turkey: Is this the first time you’ve introduced Fox-10 Advanced missile Launcher into the market?

Steve HARRIS: Yes, you are at the front end of the program although happily, we have other potential customers who seek a modern lightweight rail launcher as well. It’s a great new product and it has a bigger brother, which we have called Fox-20. Fox-20 is in the development phase and will cater for the larger missiles such as AMRAAM and Meteor BVRAAM – so a carriage capability of around 185kg. Fox-20 is the natural next step from Fox-10 and will complement our other Multi-Missile Launcher (NMML) currently in service with Saab Gripen.

Fox-10 is intended for use with SRAAM missiles and has a forward umbilical as used by most short-range missiles. However, because of its strength, it can carry longer range missiles provided they have a forward umbilical connect – like Rafael’s I-Derby.  This is a really important feature as typically this weapon would have to be used with a larger (60kg plus mass) launcher.

We have built-in options for mounting. Fox-10 has 30” spaced bolt attachments suitable for installation at the wing tip, underwing on a pylon or on a trapeze in a side pod.  In addition, we can provide a lightweight adaptor to convert to 14” spaced NATO Bale Lugs allowing attachment to any NATO standard Eject Release unit.  Some customers have indicated a desire to fit two weapons at their under-wing pylon stations and we have an adaptor to enable this capitalizing on the light weight of the solution and the ability to double the pylon payload.

Cobham has taken a new step in naming our new rail launcher and we are trademarking this and future products. Hopefully, the Fox-series will be synonymous with modern, lightweight, ITAR-Free rail solutions for a wide range of aircraft and their operating forces.

Defence Turkey: Mr. HARRIS thank you for sparing your time for our readers. Have a good show.