During a pre-Farnborough briefing day with MBDA about three weeks ago, we received an update on the Fire Shadow loitering munition system, developed to meet part of the British Army’s indirect fire precision attack requirement.
Production deliveries were made in March, but a decision has been taken to not deploy the weapon – which, as the company-supplied image below shows, offers the ability to precisely hit fixed and moving targets – to Afghanistan. I guess the question of “proportionality” versus Taliban fighters was a contributory factor, no doubt along with public perception of using unmanned systems to conduct lethal strikes (which of course ignores the fact that humans are in the loop to select targets and authorise an attack sequence).
The Royal Artillery is expected to conduct its own firing trials with the Fire Shadow in Sweden later this year, in order to further its development of tactics, techniques and procedures for any possible future combat use of the system. And while the demonstrated SUV killer won’t be going to Afghanistan, I’m pretty sure that the army’s Apache AH1 attack helicopter community won’t be complaining too much.