A series of live firings of the Brimstone precision strike missile from a Eurofighter Typhoon were completed successfully, BAE Systems said in a Thursday, November 2 press release.
The trials conducted by BAE Systems form part of a programme of Typhoon enhancements which will be rolled out across the Royal Air Force fleet.
“Brimstone will add a low-collateral, high precision strike capability and ensure Typhoon remains fit to meet the threats of the future for decades to come,” said Andy Flynn, Eurofighter Capability Delivery Director, BAE Systems.
Since July, nine firings and nine jettison trials have been completed with support from the U.K. Ministry of Defence, MBDA, QinetiQ, Eurofighter GmbH and the Eurofighter Partner Companies – Airbus and Leonardo, the release said.
The trials were aimed at providing weapons integration clearance for operational use, and covered a range of release scenarios, including testing at various heights, speeds, levels of G-force and in different positions on the aircraft wing and in the launcher.
Further flight trials will take place in early 2018. Evaluation of Brimstone by the RAF is planned for mid-2018, ahead of its entry into service. It is part of the Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) package which includes mission system and sensor upgrades, as the RAF transitions from the Tornado GR4 to the Typhoon.
Brimstone 2 precision strike air-to-surface missile
Brimstone is an air-launched ground-attack missile developed by MBDA for the Royal Air Force, specifically to target enemy armor. It was originally developed as an evolution of the laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire with a new millimetre wave (mmW) radar seeker, but the weapon was substantially redesigned and it entered service in 2005. Laser guidance was added in 2008 to a dual-mode variant after experience in Afghanistan, and this weapon has seen extensive use in Afghanistan and Libya.
The Brimstone launcher carries three missiles in a single weapon station.
The weapon uses a tandem shaped-charge warhead, making it more effective against modern tanks than similar weapons like the AGM-65G Maverick. The warhead uses a smaller initial charge to initiate reactive armor, followed by a larger charge designed to penetrate the base armor.
MBDA is working on the Sea Spear variant to target small boats, and its use from ships, attack helicopters, UAVs, and from surface launchers.
Brimstone will not be integrated on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Saudi Arabia is the only export customer, but the United States, France and India have expressed interest in buying Brimstone. India is interested in integrating Brimstone on their Sukhoi Su-30MKI fleet, while France is reportedly considering Brimstone for its Tiger attack helicopters.
As part of closer defense cooperation between Germany and the U.K., the Luftwaffe announced in November 2016 that it would procure Brimstone 2 dual mode missiles for their fleet of Eurofighter aircraft from 2019.
In 2015, the cost per missile was reported at £175,000 ($263,000).
Typhoon Phase 2 Enhancement package
Evaluation of the Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) package by the with RAF’s 41(R) Squadron – the Test and Evaluation Squadron continues, and will include live firings. The P2E package includes MBDA’s Meteor Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile and the Storm Shadow deep strike stand-off air-to-surface missile.