Air Weapons: Rampage Reaches Out

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July 11, 2018: As Israel seeks to rely more on guided missiles and less on aircraft getting close to targets, one obvious source of new aircraft weapons are ground-launched guided missiles. Since most ground-launched guided missiles use GPS adapting them for air-to-surface use. It is also easier if you select a missile that will easily fit on bomb racks (attachment devices under the wings) and Israel had a new artillery rocket that was about the same size and weight as half-ton (1,100 pound) guided and unguided bombs already used on fighter-bombers. This was the locally developed EXTRA (EXTended Range Artillery) GPS guided rocket. This is a 570 kg (1,254 pounds) 306mm weapon that has a max range of 150 kilometers and was entered service in 2016. An additional bonus is that when launched from the air, a ground-based rocket has a much longer range, especially when launched at a high (over 3,000 meters) altitude. In addition, an air-launched artillery rocket comes at the target at very high speed compared to smart bombs and cruise missiles. Israel decided to call the airborne version of EXTRA Rampage because, well, let us explain.

The only modifications needed to turn EXTRA into Rampage was a reinforced midsection and the addition of attachment hardware so it could be carried by a fighter-bomber just like the bombs of the same weight and shape long used. In the future aircraft could have their fire control systems modified so the pilot could change the target coordinates for Rampage. A lighter warhead (100 kg) is used for Rampage to achieve the same weight as half-ton bombs. The air-launched Rampage and its range has not been revealed yet but it is probably over 400 kilometers. Israel has successfully tested Rampage but did not reveal the ranges at which Rampage worked. It is quite possible that Rampage is effective at more than 500 kilometers but keeping potential enemies guessing for as long as possible is a military advantage. Rampage will be used in Syria if Syria is still a combat zone for Israel in 2019 when the Israeli Air Force will have production model Rampage missiles. It was also noted that Rampage could add a laser homing system that would enable it to hit moving or very small targets. The designating laser could be provided by a UAV or someone on the ground.

It has become more common to adapt ground-based weapons for use on aircraft. That’s because there are more ground-based artillery weapons that are guided (usually with GPS). It’s also possible to upgrade the air based versions with more capable guidance systems. In particular, this means terminal guidance. These systems take over when the missile is within a few kilometers of the target and uses a radar or heat sensor to find the exact location of the target.

Since the 196os is has been common for air-to-air missiles to be adapted for use from the ground. The Sparrow, Sidewinder, and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles have been successfully used in this way as anti-aircraft systems. The U.S. Air Force even tested the possibility of air-launched Minuteman ICBMs from the air (pushed out the back of a heavy air transport. The concept worked but was never implemented on a large scale. More successful has been the use of air-launched rockets to put satellites into orbit. Israel also has a small ballistic missile that launches from the air to provide a realistic target for testing their Arrow anti-missile system. Another less from all this is that imagination and flexibility are also valuable military assets.

 


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