FARNBOROUGH, England -- MBDA thinks it has an answer to counter the threat of swarm boats that have concerned naval learders since small Iranian attack boats surrounded U.S. ships in the Arabian Gulf in 2008.
British Tornado GR4s have carried the Brimstone missile in Afghanistan and Libya using it to target fast moving vehicles and minimize collateral damage on sensitive stationary targets. MBDA plans to use that same missile on maritime targets to include small speed boats.
MBDA originally built the Brimstone to kill tanks and large armor formations. In 2008, MBDA introduced a dual version millimetric wave/semi-active laser to put a man in the loop and provide an extra layer of protection from killing civilians in counterinsurgency wars like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Frank Morgan, an official with MBDA, said here at Farnborough International Airshow the company wants to remove the semi-active laser and focus the Brimstone on tracking small attack boats. The millimeter wave seeker specializes in tracking small moving targets. This year, a Tornado dropped a maritime version of the Brimstone that blew up a 6 meter inflatable boat.
Tracking a naval target is often tougher than a land one because of harsher weather and waves, Morgan said. MBDA has plans for future tests coming soon to fine tune the seeker and offer it to potential customers. The British Royal Air Force and Saudi Arabia are the two countries who carry Brimstone missiles on their aircraft.
"This is a natural progression for Brimstone as MBDA has wanted to expand the role of [the missile]," Morgan said.