TechGermany contracts Brimstone 3 missiles for enhanced Luftwaffe arsenal

Germany contracts Brimstone 3 missiles for enhanced Luftwaffe arsenal

A visualisation showing the launch of a Brimstone 3 missile from a Eurofighter.
A visualisation showing the launch of a Brimstone 3 missile from a Eurofighter.
Images source: © MBDA
Przemysław Juraszek

5 July 2024 14:51

Germany has signed a contract to produce and deliver Brimstone 3 anti-tank missiles, which are used on Eurofighter aircraft operated by the Luftwaffe. Here are the capabilities of this powerful anti-tank missile.

The MBDA corporation announced that Germany had signed a contract for Brimstone 3 anti-tank missiles for the Luftwaffe. The exact number of missiles is unknown, but earlier reports mentioned plans to acquire several hundred. A new development is a piece of information about establishing a final assembly line and a Brimstone missile servicing centre at the MBDA plant in Schrobenhausen.

Eric Beranger, CEO of MBDA, also commented on the event: " Germany's purchase of Brimstone 3 is a significant contribution to the standardization of armaments in Europe and to increasing the Bundeswehr's ammunition stocks. The new production line will be the first of its kind outside the United Kingdom. The decision to establish it demonstrates the value of MBDA's collaboration model in ensuring sovereign European defence capabilities."

Brimstone 3 missiles - one of the best tank killers in the world

The Brimstone 3 missiles are the latest version, tested in 2019, representing an evolutionary development from the Brimstone missiles of the 1990s, which started as a modification of the AGM-114 Hellfire, enabling them to be launched from aircraft.

Over the years, the Brimstone missile has been significantly improved and no longer resembles its original version. The second version, produced since 2014, has more advanced capabilities and offers a range of over 40 kilometres and an enhanced warhead. According to MBDA representatives, it is capable of destroying any tank in the world. Additionally, the second generation added a guidance system based on satellite and inertial navigation.

It provides a useful addition to the dual-mode seeker head using a laser beam and onboard radar. This combination allows for the elimination of low-radar-signature targets and is very useful in combating moving targets in intense electronic warfare conditions. According to the manufacturer, this ensures 98.7% accuracy in combat conditions, as evidenced by numerous wrecks of Russian tanks in Ukraine.

The most interesting mode, however, is "fire and forget," in which the missile independently searches for targets based on their signatures. The onboard computer, using radar data, can distinguish civilian vehicles from military ones and can be programmed so that the missile avoids friendly units and only attacks enemy targets located beyond a designated point on a digital map.

Changes concerning the third generation are mainly expected to include software improvements, enhancement of the warhead, and the use of a better battery that extends the electronics operating time by 30%, which translates to longer radar operation time, for example.

A huge advantage of the Brimstone missiles is their incredible flexibility of use, thanks to the ability to be launched from various platforms – from aircraft, helicopters, and drones to naval and land platforms. An example of this is the Polish destroyer Ottokar Brzoza, the "trucks of death" used in Ukraine, or drones such as Eurodrone and MQ-9B, with integration currently underway. It is worth noting, however, that the range is shorter when the missile is launched from land or naval platforms compared to airborne platforms.

Additionally, due to its compact dimensions (1.8 metres in length) and light weight (50 kilograms), the Brimstone can be carried in triple launchers, which occupy one pylon. This means that on four occupied pylons, a Eurofighter Typhoon or another aircraft can carry up to 12 such missiles, which is enough to eliminate almost an entire tank company in one raid.

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