MBDA Refines Brimstone Air-Surface Missile

 - October 25, 2013, 10:55 AM
An RAF Tornado GR.4 taxis for takeoff with a Brimstone 2 round on the right fuselage hardpoint. The missile is a further development of the dual-mode Brimstone (see inset) by MBDA. (Photo and sketch: MBDA)

MBDA reported a series of successful firings earlier this month of the Brimstone 2 air-surface missile being developed for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). The new version of the 100-pound-class, low-collateral-damage weapon adds a laser to the original millimeter-wave (MMW) radar guidance system. The missile will be carried by RAF Tornados and, later, Typhoons and F-35s. MBDA is promoting the Brimstone for other platforms, including UAVs such as the Predator/Reaper series.

The RAF has already acquired Brimstones equipped with the dual-mode seeker, as an urgent operation requirement for carriage by Tornados during the Libyan campaign in 2011. But compared with those missiles, the definitive Mk 2 will have a substantially increased engagement envelope; increased maneuverability; and enhanced sensor performance, says MBDA.

The five missiles fired during this month’s trials “performed perfectly throughout,” according to MBDA. Each missile flew the optimum trajectory, immediately acquiring the target at long range by laser; maximum range is up to 200 percent greater than that of the Mk 1, the company says. The missile then fused and correlated the laser and MMW radar target tracks and used the MMW sensor to ensure no escape and a direct hit. The targets were moving at up to 70 mph and in cluttered road environments, MBDA said.

As well as offering longer range and higher release altitudes, the Mk 2 Brimstone can also be launched from high off-boresight angles, according to MBDA. For example, aircrews can engage targets from a “Close Air Support wheel” (orbit), without the need to revert to straight-and-level flight.  

At the Paris Air Show last June, MBDA described a surface-launched version of the Brimstone named Sea Spear, designed to counter fast-attack vessels.