The South African Air Force (SAAF) has taken delivery of the new infrared imaging system tail / thrust vector-controlled (IRIS-T) air-to-air missile from Gripen.

The fifth-generation, IRIS-T missile has been developed to replace the AIM-9 legacy Sidewinder missile.

The missile provides the pilot with an unmatched full-sphere launch capability under all modern countermeasure conditions, including blinding laser.

Equipped with an unique imaging seeker, the missile is capable of destroying targets ranging from low-signature objects such as UCAVs and cruise missiles up to large aircraft.

The SAAF selected the IRIS-T in 2008, as an interim short-range air-to-air missile, to equip its JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft.

The air force will eventually replace the IRIS-T, with the indigenously designed and produced A-Darter, which is still under development.

Chief of the SAAF Lt. Gen. Carlo Gagiano said the state-of-the-art missle had unrivalled performance capabilities and would be coupled with a helmet-mounted display.