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Triton Anti-helicopter missile for submarines - the first fibre-optic guided missile to enter operational service.
It just got hotter for ASW (anti-submarine warfare) helicopters in 2004. The German EADS-LFK 'Polyphem' will be the first fibre-optic guided missile to enter operational service. It can be launched by ship or helicopter for use against small ship- or land-based targets, and has a range up to 60km at Mach 0.6. A 20kg warhead is fitted and terminal guidance is either automatic or man-in-the-loop, via an IIR seeker.
'Triton', a 15km-range version, is being developed in conjunction with HDW and Kongsberg for submarine use with a solid rocket booster rather than Polyphem's turbine. The system will give submarines a measure of submerged anti-helicopter capability and, like Polyphem, should be ready for service by 2004. The Triton version is launched from a submarine's torpedo tube and is to equip the German and Italian 212 submarines, and becomes operational on Israeli Dolphin submarines in 2004.
How does a "fiber-optic cable-guided" missile system function?
A fiber-optic cable-guided missile system such as TRIFOM/Polyphem can be used from different platforms (land vehicles, ships, submarines, or helicopters). After its launch, the missile is connected with a 'ground station' by a glass fiber, which unwinds itself during it's flight from the missile's tail. This glass fiber is totally immune to enemy interference. Thus a bi-directional data link between missiles and platform and/or human operator exists each time a missile is launched. Over the glass fiber, data from the missile's infrared camera will transfer to the human operator's screen. This infrared camera is mounted on a very flexible spindle in the optical nose of the missile, and allows very focused and precise targeting, yet offers a very wide peripheral vision in acquisition. The operator can observe thereby on the screen in real time the target area, which the missile flies straight over. Fiber optics allows the missile operator the possibility to take over ("one in the loop concept"). If new targets emerge in the meantime, it can identify and evaluate these after missile launch. Owing to clear target identification and the high precision of the missile, unintentional damage can be avoided. Thus the Polyphem/Triton is the only missile system, which can accomplish a target change after already accomplishing target lock-on. This option could be very useful in the larger Polyphem missile if used from helicopters when engaging certain land targets (like in the 'West Bank' or in Afghanistan).
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