MBDA expects to sign a delayed strategic partnering agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence next year to formalise the creation of its Team Complex Weapons group, which will be responsible for the development, manufacture and support of the bulk of the nation's future missile systems and other key armaments. Fresh progress on the initiative, which was launched during last year's Farnborough air show and originally to be concluded within six months, comes as the manufacturer unveiled a new loitering battlefield munition design, dubbed Fireshadow.

Shown for the first time by MBDA-led Team Loitering Munitions at DSEi, the ground-launched design will operate above the battlefield in a similar manner to an unmanned air vehicle for up to 10h before delivering its weapons load with claimed "sub-metric precision".

© MBDA/Flight International

The approximately 150km (81nm)-range system is being designed to operate in close conjunction with intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance assets such as the British Army's future Thales/Elbit Systems Watchkeeper UAV, and will provide an affordable means of attacking mobile and time-sensitive targets. MBDA says the Fireshadow system will also be suitable for use in urban operations, and will have a unit cost comparable to the UK's current-generation guided rockets.

The new loitering munitions team also includes companies such as Lockheed Martin, Meggitt, Qinetiq, Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems and Thales, many of which are also supporting the Team CW initiative.

MBDA chief executive Antoine Bouvier and MBDA UK managing director Steve Wadey met UK minister for defence equipment and support Lord Drayson at the show to discuss progress, including on the loitering munition.

"We are committed to acting as a driving force on Team CW, and are working very closely with the MoD," says Bouvier. "The process is also aligned with the vision of MBDA, for the benefit of the company and Europe on long-term convergence. It is an opportunity to leverage our capabilities in the UK and go beyond borders."

Source: Flight International