March 22, 2014

MBDA’s Brimstone Completes Drone Test Trials on a MQ-9 Reaper

MBDA has successfully demonstrated the operation of Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone (DMB) missile from an MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), scoring nine direct hits against a range of targets including very high speed and manoeuvring vehicles.

The main advantage of Brimstone is its dual-mode operating capability, combining millimetre guidance with semi-active laser targeting, enabling the operator to accurately designate a target, after the milimeter-wave seeker locks on the designated target the missile independently follows that target independent of further laser designation, through the engagement. The tests pave the way for the deployment of the weapon on Britain’s MQ-9 Reapers. Beyond their use with aerial platforms, Brimstones were also been tested on fast naval crafts, fired against speedboat simulating swarm attacks.

The trials began with captive carry of Avionics and Environmental Data Gathering Missiles, proving the successful integration of the two systems and gathering additional evidence to support future clearance activities. These were quickly followed by a series of live Operational Missile and inert Telemetry Missile firings. The firings were taken from realistic ‘middle of the envelope’ profiles; typically 20,000ft release altitude and 7km – 12km plan range, with the platform being remotely piloted in operationally representative beyond line of sight (SATCOM) conditions, with tracking and designation of targets being conducted in a mixture of manual-track and auto-track modes. Two of the more challenging scenarios were against trucks travelling at 70mph in a crossing target scenario.

At times, the targets were manually tracked by the REAPER crews, showing how the integrated Semi-Active Laser and Active MMW radar seeker works in tandem to ensure direct hits, even while operators are tracking and designating targets manually over satellite communications. “Every Operational and Telemetry missile performed as designed” MBDA announced, ”Following the successful demonstration Brimstone can now provide more flexibility to Reaper operators, reducing collateral damage risk while retaining first pass, single shot lethality against high speed manoeuvring targets on land, at sea and in complex environments.”

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