The Laser-Guided Sidewinder, currently being developed by Diehl Defence, is an adapted air-to-air guided missile for air-to-surface missions on the basis of the AIM-9L-family. LaGS permits air-to-surface missions with a worldwide proven guided missile without having to shoulder considerable expenses for re-integration in the combat aircraft. The infrared seeker in the original missile´s guidance and control section is replaced by a Semi-Active Laser (SAL) seeker. The SAL seeker concept envisages marking the target with a Laser Designator. The SAL seeker directs the missile autonomously into the laser-lighted target.
Since the great majority of today´s air-to-air scenarios are covered by advanced missiles such as IRIS-T, adaptation and employment of the AIM-9L missile family, having already been procured, offers operational advantages and is practical in terms of logistics. LaGS` accuracy enables aircraft crews engagement of lightly armoured surface targets in the air-to-surface, Close Air Support (CAS) and Urban Close Air Support (UCAS) roles. Target engagement is initiated without delay and conducted beyond the adversary´s counter-fire range.
The planned modification of the available guided missile will generate a new qualified product in the shortest possible time. The missile´s measurements, weight, center of gravity and inertia remain unaltered; nor are the interfaces to the launcher and aircraft subject to change. LaGS will offer full compatibility with the Sidewinder weapon station. Possessing this design, the available air-to-air weapon stations can be employed without platform alterations both for air-to-air and air-to-surface missions with the modified Sidewinder. As air-to-surface precision armament with a 20-year life cycle, LaGS offers combat aircraft enhanced mission options.