MBDA is developing a 50kg modular weapon system as part of the Complex Weapons program, addressing future enhancements of the Brimstone air-launched anti-armor weapon, The new weapon will be designed as a modular platform ‘bus’, accommodating modules and subsystems designed for rapid technology insertion through the in-service life of the weapon system. This common missile approach could be adaptable for several families of weapons, with benefits of high production capacity and cost effective through life support. The new weapon is intended to enter service from around the middle of the next decade.
The threat set for this type of weapon is: typically mobile and likely to be capable of fast moving. It will include semi-hardened buildings such as command centers, mobile air defense units and light armored vehicles. Importantly, this new weapon is to discriminate its target when for example the moving “target” vehicle is close to similar sized “non-target” vehicles. The new weapon needs to be very flexible in its targeting which can take place from the platform itself or from a third party. Consequently the weapon must have very high degrees of precision with a lethal package that is focused – this combination ensures that collateral damage is limited and only the target area affected.
The new missile will establish a common weapon employed with army, air force, naval manned and unmanned strike fighters and helicopters. The weapon could be considered to replace the Hellfire on Apache helicopters, the Brimstone on existing fast jets, as well as the future SPEAR (Selected Precision Effects At Range) to me employed on future fast jets like the F-35B and possibly future combat UAVs like Taranis.
The fast jet requirements from the UK Royal Air Force, under the SPEAR requirement, is looking for the ability to engage mobile, re-locatable and fixed targets at long stand off ranges with extreme precision. This requirement recognizes the ever increasing demands placed by the dynamic rules of engagement particularly in complex environments which might include urban and built up areas where the risk of collateral damage is at its highest.
The Network Enabled Capable (NEC – datalink equipped) missile will accommodate a baseline GPS assisted guidance system augmented by an imaging seeker for pinpoint accuracy in the terminal phase. A range of seeker and warhead options are currently being evaluated to optimize the required low collateral precision effect. It will be used as principal weapon on current and future strike fighters including Tornado GR4, Eurofighter Typhoon, Apache and F-35B.