MBDA AND Boeing have successfully completed a series of physical trials and firings of the Brimstone missile on the AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter to confirm the feasibility of integrating the missile with the United Kingdom’s future AH-64E fleet.
Announced by MBDA at Farnborough on July 13, these trials validate a prior UK MOD study contract with MBDA and Boeing that confirmed integration was expected to be low risk.
The programme was funded by a UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) contract, awarded to MBDA in September 2015. It included a range of environmental and sensor compatibility trials, as well as functional and avionic trials to demonstrate new platform software and functionality implemented into the platform and cockpit by Boeing. Boeing performed the platform and cockpit software modifications and managed the trials programme at Mesa and Yuma, Arizona, using a leased United States Government AH-64E, in just nine months. All this activity culminated in a number of successful guided firings.
These firings demonstrated the capability of the weapon to guide using Brimstone’s Semi-Active Laser (SAL), Dual Mode SAL/millimetric wave (mmW) and fully autonomous mmW guidance modes. The weapon releases were from hovering, moving and manoeuvring/banking scenarios against Main Battle Tanks and pickup truck targets. All of the firings utilised fully telemetered missiles instead of those with a warhead to confirm performance. The UK MOD’s trials objectives were met with missile telemetry being gathered, confirming that the weapons separated with active fin control off the rails, with no tip-off concerns. The data collected from these missile firings will be used to enable future optimisation of Brimstone for the AH-64E capability.
Whilst using the current Brimstone capabilities, and with further enhancements planned, an impressive range of unique capabilities have already been demonstrated. Dan Girardin, Boeing Flight Test Engineer, Mesa AZ: said “The mmW autonomous shot from a moving and banking platform against an off-axis target with the missile hitting the MBT turret ring was the most aggressive shot I have seen in my 30 years of the Apache programme”
Dai Morris, UK MOD’s Complex Weapons Senior Responsible Officer in FMC-WECA welcomed the results saying, “UK MOD is working together with MBDA to develop the missile capability the British Army requires. Brimstone is part of a family of capabilities, which in addition to the needs of the warfighter, will be aimed at delivering wider benefits including pan-platform utility, stockpile resilience and better overall value for money for Defence”.