MBDA’s Future Attack Helicopter Weapon and the Brimstone missile

Technology World

MBDA’s proposed FAHW solution builds on the highly acclaimed and combat-proven (98.7% effectiveness rate) to specifically meet Attack Helicopter Weapon requirements. The system provides operators with the ability to reliably and simply engage – in both direct and indirect fire modes – a wide range of target types with its multi range warhead. MBDA’s Brimstone provides crews with a world-beating, low-collateral, precision strike capability, including use in cluttered urban environments where surgical accuracy is paramount. Described as ‘the Swiss army knife of available weaponry’, there is nothing that compares to Brimstone in-service in the world today. It offers true dual mode functionality by combining a millimetric wave radar seeker with a sensitive Semi-Active Laser capability.

Brimstone can be fired in all-weather conditions and in a number of attack profiles: direct or indirect against single targets, or columns of targets. It is also effective against an array if targets by utilising a salvo attack capability of multiple kills per engagement. Brimstone opens new opportunities for precision effects and its advanced capabilities remove many of the obstacles that have faced aircrew. They now possess a weapon that is cleared for use in restrictive scenarios such as engagement of targets in high collateral risk and urban areas, and that has the technological capability to engage fleeting, manoeuvring or high speed threats. Brimstone entered service with the RAF on 31 March 2005 and can be integrated on a range of platforms including fast jet, rotary wing and UAVs. Essentially, this capability means that Brimstone can take out the target, and only the intended target, with confidence and without becoming ‘distracted’ by other entities and with a range of tailored effects including blast, penetration and airshot.

It is the product of choice for moving targets and counter insurgency scenarios, particularly in built up, urban environments. Brimstone can discriminate between targets in ways that other products simply can’t and while all other competitors operate either a laser or radar guidance system, Brimstone leads the market by being the only product to offer this truly simultaneous and multi-mode weapon capability. An additional unique factor is Brimstone’s status as an insensitive munition; a critical requirement for QE Class ships achieved through the use of unique UK technologies such as strip steel laminate rocket motors. This provides an unmatched and enhanced level of crew and platform survivability and means it does not offer a threat to friendly forces even if damaged by bullets, fragments or fuel fires.

Brimstone has been combat proven in a range of harsh environments since 2005 and, to date, several hundred Brimstone missiles have been used in the likes of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, forming the cornerstone of RAF counter-insurgency activity in these campaigns where it has close to a 99% success rate in operations.

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