The Eurofighter Typhoon has completed maiden live firing of the MBDA Brimstone air-to-surface missile, a significant boost to precision ground attack capability of aircraft.
The trial was part of the ongoing development of the Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) package, currently contracted by UK Royal Air Force.
Introduction of the P3E package on to UK Typhoon fleets is crucial for RAF, as the Brimstone capable Tornado GR4 jets is slated for retirement from 2018.
The Brimstone is designed for close air support missions and its rocket propulsion enable precision strike against fast-moving targets from a distance of more than 12 miles (20+ km) with low collateral damage.
The present Dual mode Brimstone is equipped with Millimetric Wave Radar and Semi Active Laser homing sensors. While the laser guidance enable attacking specific targets in cluttered environment, the mmW radar ensures precision strike against moving targets.
A BAE Systems’s IPA (Instrumented Production Aircraft) 6 Typhoon conducted the firing with support from the UK Ministry of Defence, MBDA, QinetiQ, Eurofighter GmbH and the Eurofighter Partner Companies – Airbus and Leonardo.
The trial was intended to test the separation of missile when it is released from the Cobham AGML III triple rail to ground missile launcher. Further 8 more firing trials will be carried out to expand the launch and range capabilities.
The initial firing follows completion of a series of around 40 flight trials earlier this year, some of them conducted alongside pilots from the Royal Air Force’s 41(R) Squadron - the Test and Evaluation Squadron - in a Combined Test Team approach.
Trials for integration of the MBDA Storm Shadow deep strike air-to-surface missile and the MBDA Meteor ‘beyond visual range’ air-to-air missile trials has been completed earlier this year, which are part of the P2E.
Operational testing and evaluation of these are currently ongoing with the Royal Air Force ahead of entry into service in 2018.
When integrated, each Typhoon aircraft will be able to carry up to six Brimstone missiles on two launcher packs of three missiles each.
While the prime focus of the P3E upgrade is the introduction of the Brimstone 2 missile, it will also enhance the capabilities of the Storm Shadow, Meteor, Paveway IV and ASRAAM weapons.