anti-armor, air-to-surface missile is a
Hellfire Longbow derivative,
designed for use by the British forces. Offering all-weather "fire
and forget" capability, Brimstone is optimized for both fast jets
and attack helicopters. The
millimeter-wave seeker autonomously detects, recognizes and
tracks targets in daylight or at night and is unaffected by
adverse weather conditions, countermeasures, smoke, dust, fog,
clouds or sandstorms. The Brimstone system comprises three
missiles each weighing 50 kg. The missiles are carried under a
triple-rail launcher designed for high speed aircraft. The system
is integrated on Harrier GR9, Tornado GR4 and Typhoon aircraft.
Brimstone is scheduled to enter RAF service in 2004.
Brimstone can be
employed in direct or indirect attack modes. In a direct attack
mode the pilot visually selects the target prior to weapon's
release, which may be assisted by an on-board target designation
system (such as a targeting pod or laser spot tracker). This mode
is designed for the attack of targets of opportunity, or self
defense against air defense assets. The Indirect Attack Mode uses
targeting information provided by a remote platform, such as a UAV,
or ground based target designation teams. The target data is fed
directly to the missile via datalink, during flight. This mode is
particularly useful on close air support missions. When large
formation of targets can be engaged, salvo firing of multiple
missiles can performed, up to a full platform load.
The missiles can be
programmed to fly on separate paths spreading out to cover a
large area, or follow a flight corridor, when engaging targets in
convoys or marching order. After launch, the missile follows an
inertial trajectory up to a certain point where it activates its
millimeter-wave radar seeker to acquire and track the target. The
radar uses a narrow, high frequency beam for search and track,
which maintains low-probability of intercept and rejects much of
the ground clutter to provide a clear target signature. Target
recognition algorithms are employed to detect and recognize
priority targets such as main battle tanks, self propelled guns
and air defense vehicles. The missile uses tandem shaped charge
warhead designed to defeat all known armored vehicles and ignore
civilian vehicles or low value targets.
Development of the
Brimstone began in 1996 under UK MOD contract. The latest test
firing from Tornado GR4 aircraft were conducted in October 2003
under the RAF Strike Attack Operational Evaluation Unit (SAOEU).
The test involved three missiles fired on a single path at T-72
and M60 targets at the US National Air Warfare Center at China
Lake. All three missiles scored three hits at different targets.