MBDA Offers Brimstone Missile as the Answer to Swarm Boats
MBDA is developing a naval version of the Brimstone missile as a counter to the increasing threat posed by swarming fast inshore attack craft operated by the Iranian military and others.
The European missile maker has already hit and sunk a 6 meter rigid-hull inflatable boat in a recent test firing from a Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 and later this year plans to start test firings from either a land platform or a small warship.
The Tornado firing involved the dual mode millimetric wave/semi-active laser version of Brimstone used with great success by the Royal Air Force in last year’s Libyan campaign.
The prime focus though is the development of a modified weapon for use by naval craft using just the millimetric wave radar to track the target.
Brimstone was originally built with just the millimetric wave radar for use against mass formations of armor.
Now the wheel has come full circle and the company is looking to revert to a millimetric wave-only sensor, which with some software tweaks can be adapted for defense against mass formations of attack craft.
The semi-active laser man-in-the-loop sensor was added to give flexibility against the variety of static and moving targets in Afghanistan.
Frank Morgan, the company’s technical and military operations executive responsible for Brimstone, said multiple Brimstone Sea Spear missiles could be carried in box launchers on naval craft as small as 15 meters.
The British Defence Ministry doesn’t have a requirement for the weapon but has encouraged the missile development by lending the Tornado and other assistance.
A land-based version for coastal or port security were other possible applications for the weapon, said Adrian Monks, the head of surface attack sales at MBDA.
Monks said the company was in dialogue with shipbuilders about the Brimstone naval craft combination.
The air-to-surface version is reasonably mature but company officials declined to say when the weapon could be ready, beyond saying it was months not years.
The backdrop for the development is the increasing threat to naval and merchant shipping posed by swarms of small craft, such as the Iranian vessels that menaced three U.S. Navy warships in the Strait of Hormuz in January 2008.