Eurofighter Typhoon has been successfully conducted the first live firing of MBDA Brimstone air-to-surface missile as part of ongoing development work to significantly upgrade the capability of the aircraft.
The trial firing is part of work to integrate the Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) package for the Typhoon fighter aircraft, which will also include further sensor and mission system upgrades.
The P3E package forms part of Project Centurion – the programme to ensure a smooth transition of Tornado GR4 capabilities on to Typhoon for the Royal Air Force (RAF).
The UK’s IPA (Instrumented Production Aircraft) 6 Typhoon conducted the firing with support from the UK Ministry of Defence, MBDA, QinetiQ, Eurofighter GmbH and Eurofighter Partner Companies – Airbus and Leonardo. It was designed to test the separation of the low-collateral, high-precision Brimstone weapon when it is released.
In total, nine firings will take place to expand the launch and range capabilities.
The initial firing follows completion of a series of around 40 flight trials earlier this year, some of them conducted alongside pilots from the RAF’s 41(R) Test and Evaluation Squadron in a Combined Test Team approach.
The successful trial follows completion earlier this year of the flight trials programme for the MBDA Storm Shadow deep strike air-to-surface weapon and the MBDA Meteor ‘beyond visual range’ (BVR) air-to-air missile (AAM).
Operational testing and evaluation of those capabilities is currently ongoing with the RAF ahead of entry into service in 2018.
Brimstone is an air-launched ground attack missile developed by MBDA for RAF. It was originally intended for “fire-and-forget” use against mass formations of enemy armour, using a millimeter wave (mmW) active radar homing seeker to ensure accuracy even against moving targets.
Experience in Afghanistan led to the addition of laser guidance in the dual-mode Brimstone missile, allowing a “spotter” to pick out specific targets when friendly forces or civilians were in the area. The tandem shaped charge warhead is much more effective against modern tanks than older similar weapons such as the AGM-65G Maverick, while the small blast area minimises collateral damage.
Three Brimstones can be carried on a single launcher that occupies one weapon station, allowing a single aircraft to carry many missiles.