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Small, Nasty, British And On The Way
by James Dunnigan
April 15, 2011

The British Royal Navy has become the first customer for the British-made Lightweight Multi-role Missile (LMM), ordering a thousand of them for its new Lynx Wildcat helicopter. Since this helicopter won't enter service until 2015, the LMM will not be available until 2013.

The LMM is a 13 kg (28.6 pounds) missile with a range of eight kilometers that uses laser (beam riding) guidance. Small missiles like this are more common. Last year ago, the U.S. introduced the 15.6 kg (34.5 pound) Griffin in Afghanistan, fired from UAVs and gunships. The Griffin came about because the existing small missile (Hellfire) was often too big.

The Hellfire II weighs 48.2 kg (106 pounds), carries a 9 kg (20 pound) warhead and has a range of 8,000 meters. The Griffin has a 5.9 kg (13 pound) warhead which is larger, in proportion to its size, than the one carried by Hellfire. Griffin has pop-out wings, allowing it to glide, and thus has a longer range (15 kilometers) than Hellfire. UAVs can carry more of the smaller missiles, typically two of them in place of one Hellfire. There are similar arrangements for LMM. The LMM is believed to have the same design approach as the Griffin, including a fairly large warhead (over 5 kg).

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