Air Weapons: The Same, But Different

February 25, 2010: Saudi Arabia has decided to equip its new Eurofighter aircraft with Storm Shadow cruise missiles, and Brimstone anti-tank missiles. The Storm Shadow air launched stealthy cruise missile got its first combat experience over Iraq seven years ago. The 5.2 meter (16 foot) long, 1.3 ton missile has a 250 kilometer range and carries a penetrating warhead. The missile is a British modified version of the French Apache missile and entered service in late 2002, costing about $1.2 million each.

Brimstone is basically an American Hellfire with a British seeker (a miniature, millimeter wave, radar), and modifications (different motor and control system) allowing it to be used at high speed (on jet fighters). The 49 kg (107 pound) Hellfire/Brimstone has a twenty pound warhead and is particularly popular as armament for larger UAVs and Helicopter gunships. Hellfire was first developed 25 years ago as an anti-tank weapon for helicopters, but has proved to be very useful against enemy infantry hiding out in buildings or caves. The current version has a range of eight kilometers.

The radar seeker makes it easier to use the missile in "fire and forget" mode. The laser seeker is more accurate (to within a meter or two of the aim point.) The British developed, for their jet fighters, a special launcher that holds three Brimstone missiles. The launcher hangs from one of the fighters' hard points. This launcher is used on the Eurofighter Typhoon and the older Tornado. Saudi Arabia recently received the first eight of the 72 Typhoon fighters it ordered from Britain.

 

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