BONN — The newly developed PARS 3 LR guided missile, the primary armament of the German military’s new Tiger support helicopter, has successfully completed its test-firing campaign.
The firing from the Tiger support helicopter took place on Sept. 20 at Defence Technology Center 91 near the northwestern German town of Meppen. A direct hit of the target moving between two house walls concluded the testing. The program is led by PARSYS, a joint venture of Diehl Defence and MBDA Deutschland, with each holding 50 percent.
After the official approval by the Federal Agency for Equipment, Information Technology and Utilization of the German Armed Forces, series production is about to start. In 2006, the military placed an order of 680 missiles. According to Diehl Defence, production will begin next year, and delivery of the first missile is scheduled for 2013-2014.
PARS 3 LR is a fire-and-forget guided missile system capable of engaging different targets at ranges of up to 6,000 meters. Originally primarily designed to attack tanks and armored vehicles, it is also capable of destroying helicopters and other targets. The missile uses an infrared seeker in combination with a tandem hollow-charge warhead. The seeker locks onto the target directly before it is fired.
Each Tiger will be equipped with up to two containers, carrying four missiles each. The gunner acquires the target when the helicopter is covered, exposing only the mast-mounted sight. Emerging from its safe cover for only a few seconds during the firing process, the helicopter is capable of engaging several targets simultaneously in salvo firing.
“In any case, it is important to acquire the German Bundeswehr as a reference customer,” said a representative of Diehl Defence when asked about export opportunities for the weapon. However, he declined to provide specific details or comment on any ongoing talks.
In June 2011, the PARS 3 LR had been shortlisted for an Indian Army helicopter air-to-ground requirement. MBDA Deutschland had delivered proposals for its PARS 3 LR multitarget, long-range weapon system for India’s Advanced Light Helicopter and for two attack helicopters, the KAMOV KA-52 and the MIL MI-28.
Development of the PARS, also known as TRIGAT, began in the 1980s. In 1988, France, Germany and the U.K. signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a medium-range and a long-range anti-tank missile. One year later, Belgium and the Netherlands joined as associate members. However, after the withdrawal of the U.K. and France, Germany decided to complete the development of the long-range version on its own — a move that was met with criticism.
In 2004, the German Federal Court of Auditors noted the development had taken more than 16 years and run up a bill of nearly 500 million euros ($649.1 million) for the Bundeswehr alone. The report stated that the need for such a new missile had been determined as early as 1982, and that it therefore has taken nearly 30 years to complete.
Also, the costs for a single rocket are now 15 times as expensive as originally envisaged. Including the development costs, each shot would cost 1 million euros, the German Federal Court of Auditors said in 2004, estimating a delivery of the PARS 3 LR in 2011.