PAS19: Elbit Systems showcasing air-to-ground precision munitions

Paolo Valpolini

With the acquisition of IMI Systems, Elbit Systems widened its portfolio especially in the air-to-ground precision ordnance area.

Visible at the Elbit Systems stand was the MPR 500 MultiPurpose Rigid bomb fitted with the Lizard modular guidance kit, the merging of the IMI and Elbit Systems capabilities leading to a high-precision high-performance system. The MPR 500, the number indicating its weight in pounds, is fitted at the front with a penetrator that allows it going through over one meter of concrete impacting the target at a speed of 330 m/s with an 80° angle, with the capability of passing through up to four ceilings. The outer envelop of the bomb is fitted with 26,000 fragments ensuring a 2,200 m2 kill area, when used against personnel.

According to data provided by Elbit the kill probability is of over 80% considering protected soldiers with a 30 seconds alert defence criterion; the high Pk is due to the fact that fragmentation is aimed downward, maximising the fragments density. Another key element is that having controlled fragments, the maximum fragmentation risk range is of 60-100, which means a much more limited area where collateral damages can occur compared to the Mk 84 1,000 lb bomb, which lethal effects can be compared with those of the MPR 500. The bomb is fitted with a multi-mode fuse, mode selection being made from the cockpit depending on the target. The Elbit Systems Lizard guidance kit is available in three different versions, 2, 3 and 4, with increased accuracy and capabilities, the selection of the type depending on target considerations as well as cost. With the acquisition of IMI Systems Elbit Systems is now able to propose turnkey PGM solutions, having brought both the effector and the guidance system under the same roof.

Beside the MPR 500 Elbit Systems exhibited the much bigger Rampage supersonic missile. Developed by IMI Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which announced it in June 2018 albeit without much detailing its new product, the Rampage is now part of Elbit Systems guided air-to-ground munitions basket. Although its range remains classified, the company defines it “an affordable munition for long distances” comparing it to the much more expensive cruise missiles. While no range metrics were provided, in the past IMI wrote that “launch to hit in less than 5 minutes” and considering an average speed of Mach 2 this should mean a range in excess of 200 km. Designed to address protected high-value targets such as command and control (C2) centres, air bases, maintenance centres, and other key infrastructure assets, the Rampage is made of a front steering unit with fo ur canard wings, followed by the avionic section, then by the warhead and finally by the solid rocket booster. With a weight of 570 kg, a length of around 4.7 meters and a diameter of 306 mm, a fighter-bomber can carry two Rampage under its wings, which are launched at a speed of Mach 0.8-0.95, the aircraft flying between 3,000 and 40,000 feet altitude, with a pitch between 0° and 35°. The booster accelerates the missile at supersonic speed, EDR On-Line understood it might be in excess of Mach 3, guidance being provided by a satellite navigation system integrated by an inertial system, fitted with anti-jam capabilities, hitting the target within 10 meters of the given coordinates. Impact velocity, between 350 and 550 m/s, and angle, up to 90°, add the kinetic energy to the warhead effect. According to Elbit different warhead types are available, no details being given on specialised one, the multipurpose warhead ensuring both penetration and fragmentation effects; a typical load could see one multipurpose Rampage and one specialised one, in order to engage different types of targets. According to press information the Israeli Air Force used the Rampage in spring 2019 against military targets in Syria.

Photos courtesy Elbit Systems