The SmartGlider family of air-launched weapons are manufactured by MBDA. Image courtesy of MBDA.
Up to 18 SmartGlider weapons can be mounted on fighter aircraft for ground attack missions. Image courtesy of MBDA.
SmartGlider weapons are carried by Hexabomb Smart Launchers. Image courtesy of MBDA.

SmartGlider Light is a compact member of SmartGlider family of new-generation standoff air-launched guided weapons manufactured by French missile systems manufacturer MBDA.

The weapon is designed to be launched from fighter aircraft such as Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for ground attack missions. It can engage ground-based stationary and moving/relocatable targets, as well as networked short and medium-range surface-to-air threats.

The missile system is intended to reinforce the air-to-surface capabilities of combat aircraft.

SmartGlider is anticipated to become available for integration onto fast attack aircraft by 2025.

Details of SmartGlider Light air-launched weapon

The 2m-long SmartGlider Light guided air-launched weapon weighs 120kg and is equipped with two fold-out mid-body glide wings, which generate a high lift-to-drag ratio. The tail section incorporates an actuator assembly with four cruciform tail surfaces to provide pitch and flight control.

“The weapon is designed to be launched from fighter aircraft such as Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for ground attack missions.”

A maximum of 18 SmartGlider Light weapons can be carried by the combat aircraft using three Hexabomb Smart Launchers (HSLs), including two mounted on under-wing weapon stations and the third below the fuselage. The HSL can handle reactive strikes without affecting the crew workload.

After launch, the mid-body wings will be opened and the guidance is initiated to begin the missile’s target engagement. The missile progress will be then monitored by the weapon system operator from the launch platform. The operator can modify the glider’s target during its flight using a data link.

The all-up-round weapon can be fired by the fighter aircraft from altitudes of 40,000ft. It is capable of travelling to a distance of more than 100km and hit enemy air defences from a safe stand-off distance.

Guidance and warhead of SmartGlider Light weapon

Guidance and navigation section of the glider consists of a combination of optronics and radio frequency sensors that increase the missile’s capabilities against anti-access strategies and other emerging threats.

The three-channel optronic homing head in the nose provides target acquisition and tracking. Guidance for the missile during the terminal phase is provided by an infrared or visible band seeker.

The onboard global navigation satellite system (GNSS) provides autonomous positioning for the weapon.

A 100kg multipurpose warhead is incorporated in the middle section of the SmartGlider Light air-to-ground weapon to provide high lethality against advanced enemy missile defence systems and hardened structures with minimum collateral damage while offering enhanced survivability to the warfighter.

The weapon’s fire-and-forget capability will allow the crew to quickly switch from one target to another.

Details of the SmartGlider family

The SmartGlider family of air-to-surface weapons, which also consists of SmartGlider Heavy, was unveiled at the Paris Air Show 2017 held in June 2017. The family was demonstrated to the international market during the Dubai Airshow in November 2017.

Weighing approximately 1,300kg, the Heavy variant can be armed with a 1,000kg warhead to engage large targets and enemy air defences.

The SmartGlider family can be provided with various guidance options including electromagnetic guidance.

The precision-guided munition can be deployed in a group to counter enemy air defences and singly at a wide range of threats. It has the ability to engage targets during both day and night.

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