On 24 January MBDA and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) signed a contract for the integration of the former’s BRIMSTONE missile system onto the PROTECTOR RG Mk1 unmanned aerial system (UAS) for the Royal Air Force (RAF), currently being manufactured by GA-ASI.
BRIMSTONE and PROTECTOR will provide key new capabilities for the RAF’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) force, enabling it to engage high-speed moving and manoeuvring targets, including maritime fast attack craft for the first time. PROTECTOR can carry three lightweight BRIMSTONEs per weapon station, and so offers a much higher loadout than the REAPER platform it will replace.
The integration undertaking follows a series of successful firing trials of BRIMSTONE from the REAPER/PREDATOR B aircraft in the United States, that demonstrated the advances in performance that the missile offers. Its integration will be completed in time for the aircraft’s entry into RAF service.
“PROTECTOR RG Mk1 is the third UK air platform to benefit from the unmatched capabilities of the BRIMSTONE missile, providing UK armed forces with vital operational advantages and sovereign defence capabilities. BRIMSTONE is unique in its ability to be carried by platforms in all domains, land, sea and air, providing a common weapon that delivers both operational and cost benefits. Commonality is a key part of all MBDA’s latest systems, and is a major contributor to the £1.7 billion in savings that the partnership approach between the UK MoD [Ministry of Defence] and MBDA has generated,” observed MBDA UK Sales Director, James Allibone.
Earlier in 2018, the UK MoD announced a £400 million contract with MBDA for the capability sustainment programme (CSP) of Brimstone missile, to build new missiles and extend this missile's service life beyond 2030.