Standing off to one side of what is in effect the main hall of the DVD 2022 event at the Millbrook vehicle testing centre was a six-wheeled transporter sporting an eight-pack Brimstone launcher, the epitome of capability delivered with cost in mind.
It transpires that this platform is in fact a joint effort, seemingly, by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), missile manufacturer MBDA, and UK-based vehicle provider Supacat. Both MBDA and Supacat have systems already in service with the UK military, the former most well-known for the Brimstone anti-armour missile, and the latter for the British Army’s ‘Jackal’ light mobility vehicle.
In teaming up a combat-proven missile with a relatively inexpensive delivery platform, an extended Supacat HMT 600, the UK MoD could in fact deliver a mobile fires capability into service far faster than might be the case with other possible carriers of Brimstone, such as the Boxer (also exhibited at DVD with such a Brimstone module).
The combination of relatively simple but effective delivery of Brimstone has been seen earlier this year on the battlefields of Ukraine. Around the mid-May timeframe, social media imagery showed Ukrainian forces utilising Brimstone missile, fired from a flat-bed vehicle, towards Russian targets.
Also in May this year, UK Defence Minister James Heappey confirmed that hundreds of Brimstone missiles in UK stocks would be sent to Ukraine, with the system able to accurately target using its millimetric-wave radar seeker out to a range of around 25km and effective against ground-based targets. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies states that the missile has a 6.3kg shaped high explosive anti-tank charge as the warhead.
It appears that the lesson could have been well-learned, with the platform on display the result of a Project Wolfram (phonetically, its given name). While exact details of the programme remain undisclosed, it is understood to be a deliberate effort to take onboard lessons learned from Ukraine’s use of the Brimstone missile with a view to creating options for future procurement.
Mobile fires options
With the missile proven by Ukraine to be able to be integrated quickly and effectively onto a land-based platform, options for the UK MoD moving forward, should it choose to create a Brimstone-based mobile fires capability, include the Project Wolfram concept or a specific module for the Boxer infantry vehicle due to enter British Army service in the coming years.
Unlikely, but possible, would be the development of both a flat-bed/Supacat-based Brimstone solution and a Boxer module. With 600+ Boxer vehicles expected to be delivered to the UK over the lifetime of the programme, the types of modules required, including a Brimstone mobile fires option, are still to be determined.
For its part, Supacat, in a 21 September release on the Brimstone HMT concept demonstrator, stated that the company had collaborated with MBDA to “equip the Light Forces tactical commander with the organic capability to deliver precision anti-armour effects at long ranges and in volume”.
Dubbed the Brimstone HMT Overwatch by Supacat, the platform “provides an all-weather fire-and-forget capability and with low collateral damage in restrictive engagement scenarios”, while further allowing for “quick and effective engagement”, according to the company.
The launcher itself has a salvo launch option to achieve “coordinated effects on multiple targets during a single mission” and includes “line-of-sight or non-line-of-sight engagements, third-party targeting and high off-boresight agility”.