Meet the Falcon, a New Short-Range Air Defense System

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February 25, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: February 25 on

ABU DHABI–An industry team consisting of Lockheed Martin, Saab, and Diehl Defence, have unveiled a new air defense system, known as the Falcon at IDEX 2019 in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. The three companies are aiming for the Falcon to replace the UAE’s aging Hawk air defense systems–and potentially those of other countries as well.

The system is made up of Saab’s Giraffe S-band radar, a modified version of Diehl Defence’s IRIS-T air-to-air missile, and Lockheed’s Skykeeper command system. The three companies began working together in 2016, specifically targeting the UAE’s need to replace their Hawk systems.

“We kind of searched the market, looking for the best products, the most modern [and] capable products, and that’s where we came together in a partnership,” said Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of integrated air & missile defense, adding that Lockheed Martin will be the prime contractor and systems integrator on the project.

During a media briefing on the system, he posited that a typical unit of the Falcon would be one command and control vehicle, one radar vehicle and three launchers for the IRIS-T interceptors.

And those missiles are at the core of the new system. They are a modified version of the air-to-air variant in use by the German Air Force, specifically designed to be launched from the ground, with a range of up to 40 kilometers.