LORA Quasi-Ballistic Missile: Adding More Teeth To Israeli Aerial Arsenal? – Analysis


Israel Aerospace Industries introduced a new version of its LORA quasi-ballistic missile in early-June this year, according to Forbes. This new version, called Air LORA, was designed to be launched from the air. In recent years, Israel has developed a variety of air-launched ballistic missiles. These long-range, deep-strike weapons are increasingly in demand due to their cost-effectiveness and efficiency. The ground-launched version of the LORA missile has a reported range of up to 250 miles (about 400 kilometres) and was used by Azerbaijan in combat in 2020.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) showcased a full-scale model of the Air LORA missile at the ILA Berlin Air Show, 2024, which took place from June 5 to June 9. A company representative informed Janes media that the air-launched missile had successfully completed trials with the F-16 and would be compatible also with the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime aircraft.

Quasi-Ballistic Missiles

Quasi-ballistic missiles follow a high, arcing path similar to ballistic missiles, but can change direction and altitude during flight. This capability allows them to perform mid-course corrections, making them more difficult to detect, track and intercept compared to traditional ballistic missiles, enhancing their effectiveness against missile defence systems. The air-launched version can carry either blast-fragmentation or deep-penetration warheads, making it effective for causing significant damage to fortified strategic targets.

Israeli arms manufacturers have recently developed a range of similar missiles. The Rampage missile was introduced by Israel Military Industries in 2018. Similar to the Air LORA, Rampage is designed to destroy high-value enemy targets from the air at standoff ranges of up to about 300 kilometres. And, like the Air LORA, the Rampage missile is compatible with the F-16 and other advanced fourth-generation fighter jets, not limited to Western-built models.

Although the exact cost of the Rampage is unknown, it is believed to be less than $1 million (INR 8 crore) per missile, making it much cheaper than the $3 million (INR 24 crore) Storm Shadow. In addition to the fact that it is affordable, Israel hopes to attract buyers for such missiles as the Air LORA and Rampage by highlighting their effectiveness and ability to survive against strategic air defences. Recently, India’s air force and navy have also equipped their Russian-built Su-30MKI and MiG-29K fighter jets with this air-launched ballistic missile.

Israel first targeted a missile factory and weapons warehouses in Masyaf, Syria, on April 13, 2019, using the Rampage missile. This was part of its ongoing air campaign against Iran-linked targets in the war-torn country. Israel chose the Rampage missile because of the nearby advanced long-range Russian S-300 defence system. It needed a missile because, although it is easy to detect, its supersonic speed makes it difficult to intercept. The strike was successful.

In recent times, Israel showcased its ability to target an advanced version of the S-300 missile system using an air-launched ballistic missile. The target was Iran’s S-300PMU-2.

In the morning on April 19, 2024,, Israeli fighter jets, possibly flying over Iraq, launched ballistic missiles that successfully hit the radar of an Iranian S-300PMU-2 located deep in central Isfahan. Iran played down the incident, occurring less than a week after Tehran launched a major drone and missile attack on Israel. This underscored these missiles’ ability to strike strategic air defences from a longer range.

While some speculated that Israel used a Rampage missile for the attack, the range and debris found in Iraq, probably from fuel booster units—additional rocket sections that provide extra thrust to a missile during launch, then detach once they have done their job to reduce weight and improve efficiency—dropped mid-flight, led many analysts to believe that Blue Sparrow missiles were used instead. The Blue Sparrow reportedly has a range of 1,250 miles (2,012 kilometres), which is sufficient for launching such a strike from outside Iranian airspace.

Girish Linganna

Girish Linganna is a Defence, Aerospace & Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. He is also Director of ADD Engineering Components, India, Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany. You can reach him at: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *