MBDA has launched production of its Fire Shadow loitering munition system for the British Army, and has reported receiving interest in the design from several other potential buyers.
"We have completed the final development firings," says Steve Wadey, the European company's UK managing director and executive group director technical. "All firings have been entirely successful against a variety of fixed and manoeuvring vehicles."
MBDA has already started delivering production weapons to the British Army in support of the service's system acceptance activities, says Wadey. He declined to comment on when and where the type could be fielded operationally.
"It has been a tremendous success, demonstrating rapid development, close working with the customer and developing a very sophisticated weapon system with a unique precision capability in a very short period of time," he says. The initiative was revealed in 2007 as part of the UK's Team Complex Weapons programme.
Weighing less than 200kg (440lb), the surface-launched Fire Shadow will be capable of operating over a range of about 54nm (100km) flying at up to 15,000ft (4,600m), and have a maximum loiter time of roughly 6h over the battlefield. It could be used in conjunction with unmanned air vehicles and attack helicopters to provide precision strike capability.
Fire Shadow has already attracted international interest, Wadey said during a financial results briefing held by MBDA in London on 21 March.
"We are pursuing discussions with a number of customers to try and secure wider interest in the programme," he says, without identifying any of the potential future buyers.