Naval version of MBDA’S Brimstone missile fired successfully
RAF already arms its Tornadoes with Dual Mode Brimstone air-to-surface missiles which have been very successful in Afghanistan and Libya. It is understood that US is considering it for employment with Reaper UCAV. The missile is powered by a rocket motor and can seek and destroy targets at long range. It is a day and night, all-weather missile system which is effective against explosive reactive armour. It is also ‘fire-and-forget’ weapon system and has been in service with RAF since 2005.
MBDA Missile Systems has now adapted the Brimstone missile, to counter fast attack craft while embedded on a naval vessel, called Brimstone Sea Spear. It was first successfully tested during April this year against a single static fast in-shore attack craft (FIAC). The missile carried a telemetry unit instead of a warhead for collecting ballistic data. The system acquired and identified the target followed by a successful direct hit which sank the target. This was followed by another firing on May 29 during which a salvo of three Brimstone Sea Spear missiles were fired in rapid salvo against a simulated attack formation of five representative FIACs, including four moored and one moving remotely-powered vessel. The moving vessel’s speed was 20 knots (37 kmph). The three missiles acquired and engaged their respective targets at a distance of between four and five kilometres due to firing range safety restrictions.
The missile tracks the target with a millimetre wave seeker which can even track targets screened by sea waves. The missile system has been designed as a fire-and-forget missile that can eliminate swarming targets autonomously. The missile is canister launched that can be mounted on a building or a naval vessel as small as 14 metres. Douglas Denneny, Vice President for MBDA based in Washington, D.C., said that the Sea Spear could protect the US Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship fleet from the fast attack boats of the Iranian Navy. The system provides effective maritime force protection capability beyond the range of medium calibre naval gun systems.
MBDA executives said that the programme is currently focused on developing the Brimstone Sea Spear missile for deployment from a surface/vessel based platform, however it can be adapted for airborne and other platforms.
MBDA’s futuristic solution for Indirect Precision Attack capability
MBDA has developed CVS302 Hoplite that is designed to provide an Indirect Precision Attack capability for land and naval artillery by 2035 and beyond. This represents the fourth and latest of MBDA’s annual Concept Visions projects. The Hoplite system consists of a mission control system, and two missile variants, Hoplite-S and Hoplite-L, both of which can fly 70 km in under two minutes at low altitude or up to 160 km at high altitude in under four minutes when there is no obstacle. Hoplite’s ‘one shot one kill precision’ simplifies operations while reducing collateral damage risk and mission cost. Hoplite’s mission control guides the operator who maintains executive control. Planning target engagement times are vastly reduced by automating the trajectory planning and collateral damage risk modelling. Optimised mission solutions varying in priorities such as time to target or survivability are provided to the commanding officer. All processing takes place on a tablet sized computer that is generally located with the artillery fire direction centre or warship’s command and control centre or can also be located with a single launcher. The system can be adapted to a variety of platforms.
Hoplite-S: Hoplite-S is a 3.2-metre-long, 120 kg ‘utility’ missile for simple, supported engagements. It has a versatile spot-scanning ladar (laser radar) seeker that also provides semi active laser (SAL) detection among other functions. As the missile is either designated by a third party or attacks on calculated coordinates, its ladar is used for acquiring pinpoint accuracy. The one-way data link (receiver) allows mission updates and re-tasking. Hoplite-S can be used in more complex scenarios with targeting assistance from Hoplite-L.
Hoplite-L: It is a 3.75-metre, 135-kg missile designed for complex and isolated engagements that require an operator in the loop (OITL) capability. Its multi-mode seeker allows passive and active 3D imaging, and is robust enough to overcome adverse weather conditions, heavily cluttered environment and countermeasures. The missile can decelerate to subsonic speeds to provide time for OITL targeting over its two-way datalink. This can be coupled with its ladar channel to direct Hoplite-S onto targets in coordinated salvo attacks resulting in more intense firepower capability compared to current systems.
Innovative technologies such as use of air turbo rocket (ATR) propulsion system, with its integrated boost motor, provides both the missiles to cruise at over Mach 2. The ATR offers the advantage of solid rocket motors and gas turbines, as well as allowing the large accelerations and decelerations required by the missiles. A Boosted Kinetic Energy Penetrator warhead enables Hoplite-L to defeat all its targets from any flight velocity. Lastly, the spot-scanning ladar is used by both missiles for 3D imaging, target identification, SAL reception, fuzing and as an altimeter.