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S Africa unveils its IRIS-T air-to-air missile

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The IRIS-T missile on South African Air Force's Gripen fighter. A Saab Photo by Dean Wingrin

PRETORIA (BNS): The South African Air Force has, for the first time, publicly unveiled its fifth generation IRIS-T short range air-to-air missile which it procured in 2008.

The missile was exhibited on board a Gripen fighter aircraft during the South African Air Force's (SAAF) 90th anniversary parade held in Pretoria.

The country has placed an order for 26 Gripen state-of-the-art fighter aircraft, its manufacturer Saab said.

The IRIS-T is a short range missile jointly developed by Greece, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

The missile uses a unique imaging seeker and is capable of destroying a variety of targets ranging from low-flying unmanned combat air vehicles to cruise missiles and large aircraft.

The missile system has been designed to replace the AIM-9 Sidewinder used by some of the NATO member countries.

IRIS-T can be mounted on any of the aircraft that carry the Sidewinder missiles like the Eurofighter-Typhoon and JAS 39 Gripen. The F-16, F-18 and TORNADO fighters can also deployed the missile system.

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