oa CSIR Science Scope - Making the most of the fifth-generation missiles of SA's newly acquired Gripens : detection and protection through our armed forces
Over the past few decades, there have been significant advances in short-range infrared air-to-air missiles. When they were first introduced in the late 1950s, they could only be fired from directly behind the target aircraft after the seeker had locked onto the target. While second and third generation missiles saw improved seeker performance, they still lead to classic dog-fight scenes as depicted in movies such as Top Gun. In fourth generation missiles there were dramatic improvements in agility and seeker sensitivity, and helmet-mounted displays (HMDs) allowed the pilot to merely look at the target and fire the missile. Fifth-generation missiles are characterised by even greater seeker sensitivity and resistance to countermeasures such as flares. A lock-on-after-launch capability further improves their versatility.
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