ILA 2022: Stealth Missile for 6th Generation Fighter Aircraft

Diehl FCAAM (lower) and the currently used IRIS-T effectors (upper).
Photo. J. Sabak

Diehl has showcased a new generation air-to-air missile during the ILA Berlin 2022 event. The FCAAM (Future Combat Air to Air Missile) is the name that describes a weapons system designed with 5th and 6th generation platforms in mind: such as the F-35, FCAS, or the Tempest.

FCAAM could be viewed as a potential IRIS-T replacement. It is however an element of a broader Future Combat Mission System concept as well. The system includes new generation weapons tailored for aircraft operating in a multi-domain, net-centric battle environment.

For the FCAAM Diehl mentions a mix of a stealthy, low-RCS structure, with a rocket motor, and programmable warhead, coupled with a new generation seeker and guidance components. The guidance system includes broadband IR sensors that are countermeasure-resistant, along with a data link, connecting the missile, and the aircraft employing the weapon.

The missile is highly maneuverable and has a long range, thanks to thrust adjustment plus vectoring and effective control surfaces, as well as a two-stage rocket motor. The second stage may be ignited during the terminal portion of the engagement, resulting in enhanced maneuverability at maximum range, reportedly exceeding 20 kilometers.

All of the above claims stem from the preliminary developmental assumptions. The concept may change along the way. Diehl aims to gain the interest of the potential customers, by showcasing FCAAM, and the whole FCMS system. A competitive, modular system has been offered by MBDA for a few years now. R&D effort regarding the new generation of AAMs has also been launched in the United States. 6th generation MRCA developed now - such as the European FCAS, British Tempest, or the US NGAD design - are to be the primary platforms employing such weapons.