Air Weapons: Sidewinder Clone in Europe

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December 17, 2005: The German air force has been the first to receive the new IRIS-T air-to-air missile. It's basically a clone of the U.S. Sidewinder heat seeking missile, but is built, from European components, in Europe. The IRIS-T can be used by any aircraft that can use Sidewinder. The IRIS has been in development since the 1980s, with the U.S. as one of the original partners. But that arrangement fell apart when the Cold War ended in 1991, and it wasn't until 1995 that the project was revived. The first test launch of IRIS-T took place in 2000, and now the missile is in production. The IRIS-T is 9.8 feet long, weighs 192 pounds, has a 12 kilometer range and is said to be very maneuverable. It's rocket motor generates very little smoke. Most European nations are expected to use the IRIS-T from now on, instead of the Sidewinder.

 


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