The Brimstone air-to-surface missile developed by MBDA has successfully undertaken challenging operational evaluation trials by the Royal Air Force (RAF) that confirm the performance of the missile’s latest technical enhancements. This was achieved during February 2016 at China Lake in the USA as the culmination of a programme to advance the operational edge this highly capable missile brings. Brimstone has a record of approximately 500 missile firings with a very high success rate since its entry into service.
The operational evaluation trials involved 11 missile firings, including at the edge of the weapon system’s performance envelope. The trials were conducted against a variety of operational scenarios with precise hits on very small, fast moving vehicles and against complex static targets. The trials included single and salvo firings, whilst laser, millimetric radar and dual mode guided modes were used, as was ground-based, third party laser designation.
The trials demonstrated the missile engagement envelope is significantly increased over the in-service missile, providing a 100% increase in stand-off range (based on MBDA modelling and release ranges of the in-service missile), and a significantly increased ability to engage targets at high off-bore sight angles. This improves the ability to fire from a launch platform performing a close air support (CAS) flying pattern (‘wheel’) over the battlefield, without the need to manoeuvre the platform to align with the target.
The firings also successfully demonstrated the new Insensitive Munition (IM) warhead, against armoured and non-armoured targets whilst bringing additional deployment benefits.
The RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon will benefit first from this enhanced capability, with an integration programme underway for 2018. Separate activities are being conducted for Brimstone’s potential use on the UK’s Future Attack Helicopter and Protector remotely-piloted aircraft system (RPAS).