Air Weapons: Multiple Uses Martlet Missile


May 11, 2023: British firm Thales spent 13 years developing a lightweight (13 kg/29 pound), 76mm LMM (Lightweight Multirole Missile) called Martlet. Martlet entered service in 2021 and some have been sent to Ukraine to see if the Ukrainians find them useful. Ukrainians used them against helicopters and UAVs as shoulder launched weapons fired from launch tubes. Some of these were used on air defense vehicles. Martlets proved to be effective and a cheaper alternative to conventional shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles. Ukrainian have found Martlet effective against Russian surveillance and explosive equipped attack UAVs. Ukraine may also be using Martlet from helicopters, UAVs and aircraft against Russian light armored vehicles, trucks and troops.

Martlet has 3 kg (6.6 pound) warhead that is available as a high-explosive/fragmentation or shaped charge for use against armored vehicles. There are several different guidance systems available, including laser homing, heat seeking and GPS. Most Martlets are used by helicopters and UAVs to attack ground targets, including small ships. Martlet can also be used by ground forces to attack UAVs or helicopters or ground targets. Martlet has a max range of 8 kilometers when launched from aircraft. Range is six kilometers or less when ground launched.

The United States provided a retired frigate as a target for British Royal Navy helicopters armed with Martlets. Martlets can’t sink a ship that large but did considerable damage to the frigate. In combat that damage could have included radars and weapon systems. Martlet was also tested against speedboats, which the Iranians favor, and proved to be effective. Britain has ordered a thousand Martlets for its helicopters and some of these were sent to Ukraine. Export orders went to Indonesia, which has problems with small boats used by smugglers, and Saudi Arabia, which is threatened by hundreds of armed Iranian speed boats.

Martlet was originally developed in cooperation with Turkey for use on the new Turkish Jackal battery-powered UAV that can also land and takeoff like a helicopter. The initial version of Jackal has a 15 kg payload and can stay in the air for about 40 minutes and operate up to 100 kilometers from its ground operator. Version 2 will be able to carry two Martlets and stay in air for over an hour at a time.




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