The British Army is to conduct live firing activities with the MBDA-led Fire Shadow missile in Sweden, but has decided against deploying the loitering munition system to Afghanistan.
Development activities on the Fire Shadow have concluded and MBDA delivered equipment to the Royal Artillery on schedule in March, says Chris Procter, the company's marketing development executive for indirect fire precision attack weapons.
A rapid prototyping effort conducted under the UK's Team Complex Weapons initiative, Fire Shadow has delivered a precision attack weapon with a maximum range of around 100km (54nm). With a man-in-the-loop command and control function, the design could be used to loiter over the battlefield in support of land forces, or to hit complex targets in an urban environment.
The weapon can be fired from a rail launcher suitable for internal carriage by a Boeing CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter. It then uses waypoint guidance, relaying real-time imagery and weapon status information to an operator, who can update its mission profile during flight.
Once a fixed or moving target has been identified and an attack sequence initiated, the weapon executes a steep dive.
"The design specifications have all been satisfied," Procter says, with army personnel having received training on the system in late 2011 and final trials also having been conducted, without a warhead installed. "We are confident that we have demonstrated the performance of the system, and that it is easy to use," he adds.
MBDA has already received interest from potential international operators. "We have started to engage with a number of different export customers," Procter says.