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Britain’s Brimstone missiles primed to make Russian soldiers' lives hell

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 11/21/2022 Dominic Nicholls
Brimstone 2 missiles, Britain, Ukraine - MBDA Systems © MBDA Systems Brimstone 2 missiles, Britain, Ukraine - MBDA Systems

Britain has sent Ukraine an advanced model of the laser-guided Brimstone missile with double the range of the previous design.

Footage has emerged of supplies of Brimstone 2 missiles being delivered by the Royal Air Force to help Ukraine push back Russian forces.  

Ukrainian troops have modified trucks to serve as mobile launch platforms to destroy Russian tanks and other vehicles from long range. The missiles are usually launched from the air.

The missiles, along with similar anti-tank weapons sent by Ukraine’s other Western allies, would have been central in blunting Moscow’s military advance in recent months.

Britain first gave Brimstone missiles to Ukraine about six months ago. However, a video released last month by the British Forces Broadcasting Service showed the more advanced version being prepared for transportation at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.

The missiles, which each cost about £175,000, can hit targets by tracking a laser fired by troops, aircraft or vehicles, or select its own target from a pre-programmed list through the use of an extremely high-frequency millimetric wave radar.

This system allows the weapon to scan the battlefield and select the most appropriate target, discounting civilian vehicles or less important military equipment.

When guided by a laser fired by friendly troops, Brimstone can be used in built-up areas with great precision, limiting the potential for collateral damage among the civilian population.

Brimstone 2 missile, RAF Brize Norton, Britain, Ukraine - British Forces Broadcasting Service © Provided by The Telegraph Brimstone 2 missile, RAF Brize Norton, Britain, Ukraine - British Forces Broadcasting Service

The first version of Brimstone entered RAF service in 2005. It was upgraded in 2008 so it could be guided by laser. Brimstone 2, the next improved model, entered service in 2016.

With a range, when launched from a jet, of roughly 37 miles, and a 6.3kg (13.9lbs) warhead, Brimstone 2 is designed primarily to hit ground targets, including moving vehicles.

However, a maritime version of the weapon has been developed, specifically designed to hit fast attack craft such as speed boats. It is very similar to earlier variants, but has to compensate for the radar and laser “scatter” that can occur when operating over water.

Trials were conducted in 2013 of Sea Spear fired against a simulated attack formation of five targets, one of which was a 15-metre craft travelling at 20 knots.

The successful trial demonstrated the missile’s ability to strike numerous individual targets at sea.

On a visit to Kyiv at the weekend, Rishi Sunak announced another military aid package of £50 million would be sent to Ukraine.

Brimstone was not thought to be part of that package, which focused instead on the provision of air defence weapons and ammunition to counter the threat from Iranian-supplied Shahed-136 drones.

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