Sunday, 3 December 2006

New missile offers strafe minus strife

Sunday 3 December


JERUSALEM - The Israelis have added a sinister but smart new weapon to their arsenal - a missile that "loiters" over a target long enough to make sure it's the enemy before striking with deadly force.

Dubbed Delilah after the siren who brought down the biblical Samson, it was unleashed by the Israeli Air Force for the first time during the Lebanon invasion in the summer - and with impressive results.

"The IAF has released footage showing a Delilah deployed against a convoy of trucks suspected of transferring weapons from Syria into Lebanon for the Islamic Resistance," Jane's Defense Weekly reported. "The footage was taken from the Delilah's electro-optic payload."

Manufactured by the Israel Military Industries company, it's described as a "standoff precision air-to-ground, loitering, high subsonic missile with man-in-the-loop."

It's also designed to have a "high kill effect and low collateral damage" by "providing a visual image of the target and the ability to loiter and gather intelligence before strike," Rafi Eitan of IMI told Jane's.

Translation: If a terrorist target turns out to be a civilian-packed house or mosque, Delilah can be called off in time.

Originally developed as a ground-launched cruise missile, Delilah has a range of up to 150 miles and is fired from U.S.-built Israeli F-16D fighter jets. It has an electro-optics system that enables its controllers to view the target from the air before attacking.

Apart from its warhead, which can be changed depending on the target, it also contains a computerized navigation system and an independent turbo-jet engine.

Delilah can be programmed to strike a target or to serve as a drone and send back pictures so commanders can assess battlefield damage.

The success of the missile in Lebanon encouraged IMI to launch a marketing campaign in Europe, where they are touting Delilah as "the ultimate weapon for precision deep strike against high quality challenging, moving and relocatable targets."

The British Royal Navy has already expressed an interest in Delilah for the "next-generation long-range, air-launched, anti-surface warfare weapon."

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