The Delilah is a short-range, road-mobile, air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile developed by Israel. Although originally developed as a UAV decoy, the Delilah was modified into a lightweight, anti-radar missile.
Delilah at a Glance
Originated from: Israel
Possessed by: Israel
Class: Subsonic land-attack cruise missile (LACM)
Length: 2.71 m
Diameter: 0.33 m
Launch Weight: 185 kg
Payload: Single warhead, 30-54 kg
Warhead: High explosive
Propulsion: Turbojet with booster for ground- and ship-launched variants
Range: 250-300 km
In Service: 1994
The name ‘Delilah’ was originally designated to an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program that started in the late 1970s.1 The UAV was designed to act as a decoy for hostile air defenses so that manned aircraft could more easily penetrate enemy territory. After the Israeli Air Force (IAF) suffered heavy losses to Egyptian and Syrian antiaircraft systems in the Yom Kippur War, the decoy concept was scrapped in favor of a weapon that could better neutralize air defenses.2
The missile entered service in early 1994. The Delilah was originally fitted to the F-4 Phantom aircraft. Over time, however, variants of the missile have been adapted to fit the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Super Phantom, the F-16D Brakeet, and the F-161 Sufa.3 A typical F-16D Delilah loadout includes up to two missiles, one under each wing. Additionally, the Delilah has reportedly been fitted to the F-4E Kurnass.4
Originally an air-launched cruise missile, Israel has since developed ground-, helicopter-, and ship-launched variants. While upgraded versions of the missile are visually identical to the original air frame, the IAF claims the differences between models engineered in Israel are “so fundamental that they can be seen as totally different kinds of missile.”5
Today, the Delilah uses autonomous technology to search, identify, and loiter over targets. The ability to loiter, more commonly associated with UAVs, gives the missile’s operator the option to perform multiple passes over a target before committing to an attack. Loitering, moreover, makes it easier to locate camouflaged or moving targets, such as mobile air defense and artillery platforms.6
The Delilah has a length of 2.71 m, a body diameter of 0.33 m, and a launch weight of 185 kg. The missile has a maximum range between 250-300 km and carries payloads between 30-54 kg.7 Although all variants have a BS-175 turbojet engine, the ground- and ship-launched variants are also equipped with a solid propellant boost motor. If Delilah is similar to other Israeli loitering munitions, like the Israeli Harpy, it may be able to loiter above a target for up to several hours.8 The system modulates its speed between Mach 0.3 and Mach 0.7 to extend its loitering time over targets.
The missile is guided by inertial and GPS navigation systems, and uses a coupled-charged device (CCD)/imaging infrared (IIR) seeker for terminal guidance. A CCD is used in imagery technologies to convert light energy from photons, measured in electrical charge, into voltage measurements that can be stored and transferred digitally. Delilah employs target auto-tracking technology and a two-way datalink that enables the missile to send and receive flight and targeting information to and from the operator, a key enabler for loitering munitions. The missile reportedly has an accuracy of 1 m CEP.9
Delilah Service History
Israel used the the missile in combat for the first time in July and August 2006. The IAF fired a Delilah missile from a F-16D aircraft, targeting a convoy of trucks suspected of transporting weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.10
- “Delilah/STAR-1” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 158.
- Noam Ofir and Or Yaakov, “Delilah’s Secrets”, Israeli Air Force, 2016, http://www.iaf.org.il/5642-35312-en/IAF.aspx.
- Robert Hewson, “Delilah AL and Delilah HL (Light Defender)”, Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, 26 October 2012.
- “Israel Delilah missile vs truck,” Military, August 9, 2011, http://www.military.com/video/guided-missiles/cruise-missiles/israel-delilah-missile-vs-truck/1101157604001.
- IMI Systems, “Delilah AL- Aircraft Launched (Fixed Wing) Stand-Off Surface Attack Missile”, 2016, http://imi-israel.com/home/doc.aspx?mCatID=65739.
- Dan Gettinger and Arthur Holland Michel, “Loitering Munitions In Focus,” Center for the Study of the Drone, 2017, http://dronecenter.bard.edu/files/2017/02/CSD-Loitering-Munitions.pdf.
- “Delilah cruise missile” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS), 158.
- “Israel used Delilah missile in Lebanon,” UPI, November 21, 2006, http://www.upi.com/Israel-used-Delilah-missile-in-Lebanon/29181164119993/.