The latest version of MBDA’s BRIMSTONE precision strike missile has formally entered service on the RAF’s TORNADO GR4. This upgrade is a significant step in the spiral development of the BRIMSTONE weapon. It introduces an insensitive munition compliant rocket motor and warhead. Together with an enhanced version of MBDA’s Dual Mode Semi-Active Laser/ Millimetric Wave seeker and an enhanced autopilot this significantly increases the weapon’s envelope (off-axis and maximum range).
MBDA is furthermore supporting the integration of BRIMSTONE onto Eurofighter TYPHOON. Carriage of the BRIMSTONE three missile launchers and missiles is also part of the flying display at Farnborough Air Show for the first time. BRIMSTONE will enter service on Typhoon as part of the P3E programme and the Royal Air Force’s Project Centurion. A UK Eurofighter TYPHOON has successfully completed an initial series of flight trials with the BRIMSTONE precision strike missile ahead of firing trials as part of a programme of work to integrate the weapon on to the aircraft. The tests were conducted using UK TYPHOON Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) 6 and led by BAE Systems with the support of Eurofighter GmbH, MBDA, and the UK MoD.
Central to the programme is the weapons integration work as part of the Phase 2 and Phase 3 Enhancement (P2E/P3E) packages, which will bring additional long range and precision strike capabilities to TYPHOON. The integration of the deep strike MBDA STORM SHADOW missile, led by Leonardo, is continuing. This builds on the ground trials of the weapon and two successful releases of STORM SHADOW from Italian IPA2 in 2015. The close collaboration between the partner companies, especially Leonardo and BAE Systems, is ensuring the required capability is delivered in both the P2E and P3E programmes.
In addition, further firing trials have been completed with MBDA‘s METEOR Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air missile. The sixth in a series of firings, which were also completed last month by aircrew from Leonardo using IPA2 at the UK‘s Hebrides range, were intended to continue to expand the clearance envelope of the weapon validate the modelling and simulation that has been performed by the Eurofighter partner companies, Leonardo and MBDA.
Furthermore, MBDA and Boeing have successfully completed a series of physical trials and firings of BRIMSTONE on the AH-64E attack helicopter to confirm the feasibility of integrating the missile with the United Kingdom’s future APACHE AH-64E fleet. These trials validate a prior UK MoD study contract with MBDA and Boeing that confirmed integration was expected to be low risk.
The programme was funded by a UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract, awarded to MBDA in September 2015. It included a range of environmental and sensor compatibility trials, as well as functional and avionic trials to demonstrate new platform software and functionality implemented into the platform and cockpit by Boeing. Boeing performed the platform and cockpit software modifications and managed the trials programme at Mesa and Yuma, AZ/USA, using a leased US government AH-64E in just nine months. All this activity culminated in a number of successful guided firings.
These firings demonstrated the capability of the weapon to guide using BRIMSTONE's Semi-Active Laser (SAL), Dual Mode SAL/millimetric wave (mmW) and fully autonomous mmW guidance modes. The weapon releases were from hovering, moving and manoeuvring/banking scenarios against Main Battle Tanks and Pickup Truck targets. All of the firings utilised fully telemetered missiles instead of those with a warhead to confirm performance. The UK MoD’s trials objectives were met with missile telemetry being gathered, confirming that the weapons separated with active fin control off the rails, with no tip-off concerns. The data collected from these missile firings will be used to enable future optimisation of Brimstone for the AH-64E capability.
Photos show BRIMSTONE on Eurofighter TYPHOON and fired from Boeing's APACHE.