Air Weapons: Fatal Patience

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February 29, 2016: In early 2016 Israel introduced Harpy NG, an upgraded Harpy LAM (Loitering Attack Missile). The existing Harpy is a propeller driven 130 kg UAV with a top speed of 185 kilometers an hour and max endurance of six hours. It carries a 23 kg (51 pound) high explosive warhead. The Harpy targeting system detects radars and attacks them. The operator can also use onboard vidcams to guide the Harpy to a specific target on the ground (like one that is not emitting any signals). Harpy was designed to go after anti-aircraft radars. The NG version has much improved electronics that can detect and identify a wider range of radars. It also has longer endurance (nine hours). Harpy has a unique appearance as it has a cranked delta wing. It is launched from a vehicle.

What makes LAMs so popular is that they can deal with the growing number of countermeasures to air attack anti-aircraft systems are being equipped with. One of the oldest, and still useful, tricks is to turn on radars for a short time, perhaps only a few seconds, they turn if off before an aircraft carrying a radar detecting missile (like the U.S. HARM) can get a fix on a location and launch.

 


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