DSEi: MBDA advances Fire Shadow loitering munition tests

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MBDA has advanced development and test activities for its Fire Shadow loitering munition design, and is on track to deliver its first operational examples to the British Army in 2012.

Two significant test firings have been conducted since late last year, the European missile manufacturer announced during the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition in London.

The most recent of these, performed at the Vidsel test range in Sweden in May, demonstrated the system's man-in-the-loop functionality, by allowing an operator to successfully select and engage a representative target, it said.

 
© MBDA

This flight built on a demonstration of the programme's "system integration, launch, stable flight, waypoint navigation and data-link function" - conducted at the same site in November 2010 - during a flight covering "several tens of kilometres", the company added.

To provide the British Army with a new operational capability, the surface-launched Fire Shadow has a reported range of around 100km (54nm) and a maximum loiter time of roughly 6h. The product is the result of a rapid development effort conducted for the UK Ministry of Defence by MBDA and partners on the UK's Team Complex Weapons initiative.

In advance of delivering the first systems next year, MBDA has been working with army personnel at its facilities to support the service's definition of tactics, techniques and procedures for the weapon's future use.

MBDA also released images at DSEi depicting the launch of the loitering munition design from the deck of a surface ship.

 
© MBDA

Recent operations over Libya involving Army Air Corps Westland/Boeing Apache AH1 attack helicopters deployed from HMS Ocean indicate one possible source of inspiration for such a move.