MBDA’s Fire Shadow weapon system, assembled in Bolton, has successfully completed a series of demonstration trials and two more firings in a development programme launched in March 2010.
This paves the way for a planned entry into service next year with the British Army. Surface launched, the munitions have a range of about 100 km and can conduct a direct transit to target or be positioned to loiter in the airspace for a significant time (about 6 hours).
The first of the firings, using a complete weapon system, was carried out on 21 November 2010 at Vidsel, Sweden to demonstrate system integration, launch, stable flight, waypoint navigation and data-link function which supports the maturation of the munition and its control. The munition flew for several tens of kilometres and its trajectory included a number of manoeuvres, such as a loitering pattern. All objectives were satisfied and the trial was witnessed by UK customer representatives.
The second firing at the same location took place on 13 May 2011. A more complex trial scenario was conducted where the Man-In-The-Loop functionality was fully exercised.
The operator was able to select and successfully engage a representative target.
Steve Wadey, executive group director technical and MBDA UK managing director, said: “Fire Shadow fills a gap in the capabilities needed by the Armed Forces as ongoing operations show every day. From the outset the Fire Shadow programme has been leading by example with its rapid development approach.
“The incredible rate of technical achievement and progress means that this unrivalled capability will be ready for delivery to the UK early next year. The system’s potential is such that it lends itself to new roles and has been designed to adapt and evolve to ensure that weapon provides an operational edge now and for the future. “
Throughout the programme MBDA worked closely with the end user and other stakeholders. Various “hands-on” trials at MBDA integration facilities at Filton and Bedford have enabled the Army personnel to tailor the specifics of the system, to refine Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) and to prepare for formal training later this year. A demonstration of the system was also carried out within a modern battlespace HQ context at the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration event.