European missile house MBDA is to perform at least one firing trial of its Brimstone 2 precision attack missile from a Boeing AH-64 Apache this year. The trial, which is likely to be undertaken from a Boeing demonstrator helicopter, is part of a feasibility/risk-reduction study contract being conducted by MBDA to inform the UK Ministry of Defence about the integration costs and implications should the UK choose to adopt Brimstone 2 for its attack helicopters, including for an expected follow-on buy of Apaches. France is considering the weapon for its Tiger attack helicopters, the company said on March 17, during a briefing on its 2015 results.
Initial operational capability for Brimstone 2 on the RAF Tornado is slated for May this year, and the weapon will subsequently be cleared for carriage by the Typhoon. Along with approvals for Storm Shadow and Meteor, which are also MBDA products, Brimstone clearance forms part of Project Centurion, which aims to make all three missiles available for Typhoon, including for export, by the end of 2018.
Another application for Brimstone 2 is expected to be the General Atomics Protector, the increased-endurance and certifiable version of the Predator B for the UK. The weapon was fired from the current Predator B Reaper variant in 2014, and further trials will be carried out with the long-wing Protector when it has flown.
Fitting Brimstone 2 to the Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper was the main focus of MBDA’s earlier efforts to sell the weapon in the U.S., but the availability of large numbers of Hellfires saw those efforts thwarted. However, MBDA has identified a key capability gap in the U.S. arsenal with regard to a high-precision, low-collateral damage weapon for use from fast jets. The company is currently working with Boeing under a U.S. Navy contract to study the Brimstone 2 for carriage by the F/A-18 Hornet.
MBDA received a boost earlier this month at the Amiens Security Summit, when France and the UK signed a statement of intent (SOI) to develop a new missile. Known as FC/ASW (future cruise/anti-ship weapon), the missile is intended to replace the Storm Shadow and SCALP stand-off precision attack weapons, and the Exocet and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The SOI should result in a concept development contract being issued in the first quarter of 2017, with requirement inputs being made by the two customer nations at various points in the development process. In 2011, MBDA unveiled a “concept vision” for the CVS 401 Perseus weapon system that addressed similar requirements, but FC/ASW is not based to any great extent on Perseus studies, and would be “larger,” according to a company official.
MBDA has a bid to conduct a UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory study into laser-based directed-energy weapons, which is intended to result in a technology demonstration of an ITAR-free system by the end of 2018. A similar, separate effort is being undertaken in Germany by MBDA Deutschland, which is also the lead contractor for Germany’s TLVS/MEADS surface-to-air missile program.
Meanwhile, MBDA is making good progress with its CAMM (common anti-air modular missile) family. The naval Sea Ceptor version is being integrated on the HMS Argyll and sea trials are to begin next year. The weapon has been selected by Brazil and another, unidentified, country, and is on the down-select list in Chile, with a decision expected soon. The British Army’s FLAADS (future local area air defence system) version will be available for training in 2018, and new-production ASRAAMs (advanced short-range air-to-air missile) will be produced for the RAF from 2019. CAMM production is being undertaken at a new facility in Bolton, which will begin operations this summer.
Overall, MBDA reported “excellent” results for 2015, with an order book buoyed by the sales of weapons for Rafale to Egypt and Qatar. While forecasts for 2016 are good, with the creation of 1,000 new jobs across the company, CEO Antoine Bouvier warned that the company faces “uncertain political situations in some of our important regions, notably in the Gulf Cooperation Council,” adding that the “low oil price is a challenge.”
Brimstone 2 precision attack missile
Brimstone 2 (SPEAR 2)
In March 2010 Brimstone was selected as the basis for the RAF’s requirement under the Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) Capability 2 Block 1 programme. The Demonstration and Manufacture (D&M) contract will increase the missile’s performance “significantly”, and convert the warhead and rocket motor to use insensitive munitions. Brimstone 2 will have an improved seeker, a more modular design and improvements to airframe and software for “an overall increase in performance with improvements in range and engagement footprint”, including a “more than 200% increase” in maximum range. A five-release test campaign in October 2013 culminated in a successful strike against a pickup truck travelling at 70 mph (110 km/h) in a cluttered road environment and Brimstone 2 is planned to enter service on the Tornado in November 2015.
|Warhead||HEAT tandem warhead|
|Crush (impact) fuze|
20+ km (12+ mi) from fixed wing, 12 km (7.5 mi) from rotor wingBrimstone II:
60+ km (37+ mi) from fixed wing, 40+ km (25+ mi) from rotor wing
|94 GHz millimetric wave Active radar homing and INS autopilot, dual-mode adds laser guidance
Accuracy = sub-1m CEP
|Flight control surfaces|
AH-64 Apache carrying Brimstone 2 Predator B carrying Brimstone 2F-18 Super Hornet carrying Brimstone 2RAF Typhoon carrying Brimstone 2