Brimstone missile

Infobox Weapon

type=anti-tank missile
used_by= RAF
diameter= 17.8 cm
length=1.8 m
weight= 48.5 kg
vehicle_range=12 km
filling=HEAT tandem warhead
engine=Solid fuel rocket
steering=Aerodynamic surfaces
guidance=Radar and INS autopilot
detonation=Crush fuze

Brimstone is an advanced air-launched anti-tank guided missile developed by MBDA.


The missile was designed to meet the RAF's requirement for a long range anti-armour weapon, allowing strike aircraft to attack tanks and armoured vehicles at stand-off range, replacing the BL755 cluster bomb. This requirement was issued following an assessment of the British military's performance in the Gulf War. GEC-Marconi (whose missile interests now form part of MBDA) was originally awarded the contract on November 7 1996.

Brimstone is a "fire and forget" missile, which is given targeting data by the Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) prior to launch. Technically, it is programmable to adapt to a particular mission. This capability includes essentially the ability to find targets within a certain area (such as those near friendly forces), and to self-destruct if it is unable to find a target within the designated area. This information is provided to the munition by the WSO from JSTARS or local troops.

Brimstone has a Tandem Shaped Charge (TSC) warhead that employs a smaller initial charge, designed to initiate reactive armor, followed by a larger, more destructive charge, designed to penetrate and defeat the base armour.

The missile airframe is developed from Boeing's AGM-114 Hellfire, but Brimstone is an all new design with its own motor, warhead and seeker ["British Secret Projects; Hypersonics, Ramjets & Missiles", Chris Gibson and Tony Buttler, Midlands Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-1-85780-280-0] .


The missile's advanced sensor package includes its millimetric wave radar (MMW), which allows the weapon to image the target, thus finding the most effective location on the target to impact. The bandwidth of the MMW radar also makes it less susceptible to inclement weather. With as many as twenty-four missiles in the air, the missile's targeting system also required an algorithm to ensure that missiles impact their targets in a staggered order, rather than all simultaneously. In addition to the semi-autonomous ability to decide its own targets, the Brimstone has the capacity to determine where on a target to best impact causing damage or elimination of the target.

Launch system

Each launch system incorporates three rails, i.e. one system carries three missiles. This allows a single aircraft to carry large numbers of missiles, for example a Typhoon can carry eight launch system on eight individual pylons, which gives a payload of twenty four missiles - in addition to a useful air-air payload. In RAF service the missile will be carried by:
*Tornado GR4
*Eurofighter Typhoon
*Harrier GR9In addition to air launched platforms Brimstone can also be deployed from surface launchers, vehicles and helicopters.


*Length: 1.8 m
*Diameter: 17.8 cm
*Weight: 48.5 kg
*Range: 12 km
*Speed: Supersonic
*Control: Aerodynamic surfaces on missile
*Propulsion: Solid-rocket
*Guidance: 94 GHz Millimetric wave radar (MMW) & digital autopilot
*Warhead: HEAT tandem warhead - initial charge triggers reactive armour followed by the main high explosive anti-tank jet dart
*Fuze: Crush fuze (detonation on impact)

Program status

The first ground firing of the Brimstone missile occurred in August 1999 followed by the first air-launched firing Tornado GR4 in September 2000. Clearance of the missile was delayed by 12 months due to the unavailability of a Tornado trials aircraft, as the RAF chose instead to rush the development of the Storm Shadow.

* March 2005 - Entered service with No. 31 Squadron RAF. [ MoD's formidable new anti armour weapon records trials successes] ]
* December 2005 - Full Operational Capability (FOC) was declared for the Tornado GR4. [ [ BAE SYSTEMS Investor Brief - January 2006] ]

Brimstone 2

MBDA is developing Brimstone 2, a variant which augments the millimeter wave (mmW) radar seeker with a semi-active laser (SAL) and the shaped charge warhead with a blast fragmentation warhead. The weapon would be guided to the general target area by the INS system and terminal laser designation would be provided either by the launch platform or other units. [cite web|url=|title=Boeing: Integrated Defense Systems - Brimstone Home]


; UK

Comparable systems

* AGM-169 Joint Common Missile
* Nimrod (missile)



* Cite news
author=Eklund, Dylan
title=Fire and Brimstone: The RAF's 21st Century Missiles
work=RAF Magazine

ee also

* Armoured fighting vehicle
* Reactive armour
* Composite armour
* Chobham armour

External links

* [ MBDA: Brimstone]
* [ Boeing IDS: Brimstone]
* [ UK Defence Procurement Agency: Brimstone]
* [ RAF page on Brimstone missile]

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