In recent successful trials, the dual-mode Brimstone missile was fired at moving 40-foot fast attack craft from a British Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 strike aircraft. (MBDA)
FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND — MBDA has conducted firing trials of its dual-mode Brimstone missile against fast attack craft as part of a trial for the British Ministry of Defence, company officials said Wednesday.
The trials included two firings against fast moving 40-foot craft from a British Tornado GR4 strike aircraft, the officials said during a briefing for reporters at the Farnborough International Air Show. One firing involved a fast attack craft placed in the vicinity of three neutral craft.
Adrian Monks, MBDA’s head of short-range surface attack weapons, said the target was hit without any damage to the other boats. The executive said the maritime strike study contract with the MoD was ongoing but declined to comment further.
A Tornado was previously used by MBDA at the start of the program to prove Brimstone’s maritime capabilities.
Sea- and land-launched options of the weapon are also being worked on.
The missile is currently deployed on the Tornado but Britain has started early integration work to install the new Brimstone 2 version on the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
The first production standard of the heavily improved Brimstone 2 is due off the manufacturing line in the next couple of days. The weapon is due to enter service on the Tornado next year.
Brimstone was originally developed as an anti-armor weapon, but with the inclusion of a dual-mode seeker it has evolved into a missile capable of defeating a wide range of targets, including fast moving vehicles.
The British MoD recently funded trials in the US to prove the integration and operation of the weapon on the MQ-9 Reaper.
The Royal Air Force currently operates its Reaper fleet armed with Hellfire missiles and precision guided bombs.
The briefing on Brimstone capabilities also revealed that the US Navy is showing interest in the British-developed weapon and is spending $4 million investigating integration of the missile on the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The US House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee has requested additional funding in its budget markup for 2015. That funding has yet to be approved. ■