SKYFLASH medium-range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile

PANAGYURISHTE — The design of the British Skyflash rocket was started in 1973 by British Aerospace based on the American AIM-7E2 Sparrow rocket. At the stage of development, the rocket had an index of XJ521.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The main difference between the Skyflash and the American prototype is the self-targeting head. It is equipped with a semi-active mono-pulse radar self-targeting head, which has greater accuracy and better noise resistance than the conical scanning head of the AIM-7E2 missile.

Flight tests of Skyflash missiles began in November 1975 in the United States at the Pacific test site. During tests in the summer of 1976, out of seven missiles fired by F-4J fighters at air targets, six flew past targets within range of the warhead.

In 1978, the Skyflash missile was adopted by the British Air Force. It was armed with F-4, Tornado, and F-16 aircraft. The Skyflash missile is manufactured under license in Sweden under the Av.71 index to equip Swedish Viggen interceptor fighters.

In the late 1970s, work began in England to modernize the Skyflash rocket. The new rocket was called “Active Skyflash”. The missile went into use in 2006 and was gradually replaced by the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

About Skyflash AAM

The Skyflash missile has a cross-winged duck aerodynamic design and a stabilizer. The missile retains the appearance of the AIM-7E2, the wing compartment, the rod warhead weighing 39.5 kg, and the engine Aerojet Mk.52 Mod.2 or Rocketdyne Mk.38 Mod 4. The engine weighing 68.5 kg has a running time of about 5 s.

The Skyflash missile has a semi-active inversion monopulse radar finder from Marconi, which consists of three main easily replaceable units: an antenna with a rotating mechanism, a signal receiver, and a signal processing unit. The antenna is gyro-stabilized and mounted on a gimbal. The system works in the Cartesian coordinate system, the maximum bearing angle is more than 40°. The antenna drive uses lightweight DC motors to provide azimuth and altitude control. The main receiver has four receiving antennas, forming three channels for signal processing. Printed circuit boards are used in the design of the receiver and the signal processing unit. Each subsystem of these units performs independent functions, which facilitates maintenance and repair.

The low signal-to-noise ratio and the narrow stroboscope for selecting speed in a mono-pulse receiver provide the viewer with good performance under interference conditions and the ability to distinguish between individual targets among aircraft flying in a narrow line. The logic circuits of the signal processing unit provide protection against most types of interference.

The high assembly density of GOS components, made possible by the use of solid-state circuits and other state-of-the-art technologies, has made it possible to create a very compact design that occupies a cylindrical volume 0.47 m long and 0.18 m in diameter. GOS is a functionally independent module and can be easily downloaded, which simplifies its operation. The search device is connected to the autopilot and the power supply, as well as to the tail antenna of the reference channel.

The Skyflash self-targeting head is optimized for use with a continuous beam radar station. The choice of such a station, rather than pulse-Doppler, is explained by its greater efficiency, while pulse-Doppler RSL can be used to target missiles only if the pulse repetition rate is high and therefore it is necessary to there is a powerful one on the aircraft carrier, which means a bigger and heavier source of energy.

The warhead of the Skyflash missile is equipped with a more effective radio fuse.

The autopilot and power supply are upgraded versions of the A1M-7E missile. The function of the autopilot, whose principle is based on the law of proportional guidance, is to maintain the flight of the Skyflash rocket along the trapping path by converting the signals of the search engine into side acceleration commands. The autopilot also receives data from the high-speed roller gyroscope to stabilize the UR in a roller.

The source of energy of the rocket “Skyflash” – thermal batteries. The service life without inspection and maintenance is 10 years, can be increased to 18.

The power supply of the steering drive is a hydraulic accumulator. It consists of a cylindrical chamber pre-filled with gas, which is placed in an elastic rubber bag located inside the suspension tank. When a rocket is launched, the gas chamber breaks, as a result of which the gas expands the elastic bag, which in turn compresses the slurry, forcing it into the hydraulic system.

Technical characteristics

Case diameter, mm203
Length, mm3660
Wingspan, mm1020
Range, km50
SpeedMach 4
Starting weight, kg195
Warhead mass, kg30

Former operators

SKYFLASH was used in follow countries: Italy, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, United Kingdom


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