Among the new air defense systems currently under development, the new Stunner missile is one of the future ‘game changing’ systems, promising to introduce unprecedented cost, flexibility and agility to air and missile defense technology.
Addressing the growing asymmetric threat of short range ballistic missiles and large caliber rockets, Raytheon and Rafael are jointly developing a new interceptor designed to meet this capability gap with the Stunner, an affordable, flexible and effective ‘hard-kill’ defense. The missile was unveiled for the first time in the USA, by Raytheon.
The missile is designed to engage missile and rocket threats with ranges of 70 – 200 km. The new system will establish a lower tier below the IAI Arrow 2 missile, which extends the defensive capability to longer range and higher altitude. Known as ‘Magic Wand’ this program will be managed by the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), which already supervises Israel’s ballistic missile defense program.
The Stunner uses a multi-pulse rocket motor, agile steering systems and combined EO/RF seeker, providing high sensitivity under all weather conditions and low vulnerability, immune to deception and countermeasures, facilitating effective ‘hit-to-kill’ maneuverability at relatively low cost. Using a ‘fire and forget’ operating concept, Stunners will engage targets along threat trajectories, requiring minimal cueing from sensor resources, ensuring high rate of fire, even during saturation attacks. Further optimizing the Stunner system’s performance, the missile’s in-flight update will provide real-time retargeting. These elements are particularly important to provide Stunner with clear overmatch on any threat, specifically in complex, hit-to-kill endgame.
The missile will utilize a booster designed by ATK, a multi-mode seeker and multi-pulse rocket motor, developed by RAFAEL. The system could rely on the IAI/Elta Green Pine missile warning radar or the company’s new Multi-Mission Radar (MMR), which is also considered for the short-range rocket defense system, also developed by Rafael. The missiles could be used as ‘stand alone’ systems, using canister, rail launchers or rely on Patriot units, using common container/launchers and battle management systems. By integrating with existing air defenses, Stunner will be able to dramatically improve the survivability of air defense systems, protecting strategic facilities from attacks by short or medium range ballistic missiles and minimize collateral damage from debris.
A different weapon system from Raytheon addresses close-in protection against asymmetric threats, using the Laser Area Defense System (LADS). Raytheon is developing this capability to expand the defended footprint and complement kinetic energy system capabilities (such as the Centurion CIWS). The system will also provide effective response against unmanned systems and sensors and could augment ship defense with effective countermeasures against floating mines and multiple small explosive boats. The LADS’ effector uses a beam director replacing the 20mm Phalanx gun. The beam director is linked to a commercially available 20kilowatt fiber-laser produced by IPG Photonics. The system is powered by a diesel generator. During the system demonstration phase conducted in 2006, LADS destroyed static 60mm mortar bombs at a range of more than 550 meters.