|By M.begenat (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons|
Germany decided to develop the IRIS-T when following reunification in 1990 it realized that the Vympel R-73 missiles (NATO reporting name: AA-11 Archer) on its MiG-29s was far more capable than earlier realized. The R-73 seeker was better at detecting and tracking targets than the seeker on the latest variant of the AIM-9 sidewinder. Also, the R-73 was more maneuverable than its American analogue.
The IRIS-T is claimed to have higher ECM-resistance and flare suppression than contemporary dogfight missiles; its superior target discrimination facilitates head-on firing at a range 5 to 8 times greater than the AIM-9L. The IRIS-T's ability to turn at rate as high as 60 deg/sec withstanindg 60 g allows it to engage targets in the rear quarter.
IRIS-T can successfully engage flying targets at a distance of up to 25 kilometers, reaches a speed exceeding Mach 3, weighs nearly 90 kg. It is 2.94 m long and has a body diameter of 12.7 cm.
IRIS-T has been jointly developed by Germany (46%), Italy (19%), Sweden (18%), Greece (13%), Canada and Norway (combined 4%).
Late in 2013, there were reports that the IAF was in negotiations with Dassault to make the Rafale compatible with the R-73 missile, of which the IAF had ordered a large stock. The Diehl pitch for IRIS-T would leverage the existing compatibility between IRIS-T and Rafale.