A potential alternative weapon for the Royal Air Force’s General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Reaper remotely piloted air systems has undergone initial firing trials, in co-operation with the US Air Force’s Big Safari programme office.
“The Ministry of Defence, with MBDA, General Atomics and Big Safari support, conducted the firing trials between December 2013 and January 2014 at the test range at China Lake in the USA,” the MoD says.
According to the ministry, a series of successful firings were performed at the California site “on a range of static and high-speed manoeuvring targets”. Further details have not been disclosed, but the ministry adds that “trial data is being analysed and will be fully evaluated”.
The RAF’s current five aircraft operate carrying four Hellfires and two Raytheon GBU-12 226kg (500lb) laser-guided bombs. During 54,000 flight hours logged over Afghanistan since late 2007 by its 13 and 39 squadrons, a combined 459 of these had been released by early this month. “The majority of the weapons employed from the Reaper have been Hellfire missiles. Hellfire has a relatively small warhead, which helps minimise any risk of collateral damage,” the air force says in a recently-produced equipment fact sheet.
“No decision has been taken to integrate Brimstone on to [the] UK Reaper,” the MoD tells Flightglobal, also adding that “no decision on future trials has been made”. MBDA declined to comment.
Source: Flight International