Latest laser-guided rocket system is bang on target

The system "fills the critical operational capability gap between unguided rockets and guided heavy anti-tank missiles".

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One of the most intriguing alliances between the nascent UAE defence industry and foreign contractors involves Raytheon and Emirates Advanced Investments (EAI). The two are collaborating on a laser guidance system for 2.75 inch rockets, which are used by helicopter-based defence systems in the US, UAE and worldwide. The system "fills the critical operational capability gap between unguided rockets and guided heavy anti-tank missiles", according to the US-based Raytheon.

EAI's investment in the rocket programme helped save Raytheon millions of dollars in development costs, the companies have said. As part of the joint development deal, a follow-on production proposal involves manufacturing the laser-guided rockets in both the US and the UAE as early as this year. Last month, Raytheon announced that it and EAI had completed four ground-based guided flight tests of the TALON Laser-Guided Rocket.

"The Raytheon-EAI team has a proven, production-ready laser-guided rocket," said Taylor Lawrence, the vice president of the company and the president of Raytheon missile systems. "These tests affirm we are on track to deliver an affordable, fully qualified precision weapon for attack helicopters in 2010." The tests used rockets built on the Raytheon-EAI production line and pave the way for airborne testing of the TALON, including live firings from the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter.

Hussain al Hammadi, the chief executive of EAI, said the programme was now entering the "final phase" and was helping the UAE achieve its goals of developing specialised skills among the workforce. @Email:igale@thenational.ae