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Brimstone Missiles on an RAF Tornado

The Advanced Air-launched Anti-Armour Weapon (AAAW), known as Brimstone, is an area weapon to attack enemy armoured forces as early and as far forward as possible. It replaces the BL755 cluster bomb in the anti-armour role, and will be carried by Tornado GR4/4a, Harrier GR7/9 and Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Royal Air Force sought a replacement for the BL755 weapon that was becoming increasingly ineffective against modern armour. It was to be carried on Tornado GR4/4A, Harrier GR7/T10, and Typhoon and be capable of defeating the present and future battlefield threat. It had to be totally autonomous after launch (fire and forget), and operate night or day in all weather conditions.

These fixed-wing aircraft will complement the capability provided by the Apache AH64-D, which is armed with the Hellfire anti-armour weapon. Brimstone operates automatically after launch, which helps reduce the hazard to the attacking aircraft from enemy fire. Development and procurement of Brimstone has cost the RAF some 822m since 1996. The weapon entered service in mid 2005.

BRIMSTONE Specifications








Cast double-base propellant rocket motor

Cruising Speed

Boost to supersonic




Inertial guidance + seeker determination to target acquisition, then seeker control



Brimstone is derived from the US Army Hellfire AGM-114F missile with a weapon comprising three missiles and a launcher. Powered by a rocket motor it can seek and destroy targets many kilometres from launch point. Ground acquisition and target recognition are achieved by a milli-metric wave radar seeker developed by GMRDS. Steerable fins guide the missile towards the target with final impact causing a tandem charge warhead to detonate. The first, smaller warhead nullifies reactive armour allowing the follow through charge to penetrate the main armour.

A Brimstone missile was successfully launched for the first time at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG), Arizona 12 August 1999. The firing took place from a Brimstone launcher mounted on a specially constructed platform and was the first in a series of ground-based trials.

In June 1999, Alenia Marconi Systems announced the award of a contract to Defence Munitions, Beith, for the assembly of Brimstone missiles. The award of this sub-contract represents the successful achievement of another milestone in the programme.


The prime contractor and weapon Design Authority is Alenia Marconi Systems based at Stanmore, Middlesex. Their major sub-contractor is Boeing North American (BNA) who supply the missile bus and launcher electronics assembly. Flight Refuelling Ltd are the Design Authority for the launcher structure with Air Log Ltd producing the missile container.

On 30 November 1999, the announcement was made that British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems had merged to become British Aerospace Systems with a 50 % interest in Alenia Marconi Systems. Alenia Marconi Systems is an equal shares joint venture company between Finmeccanica of Italy and GEC of the United Kingdom and is teamed with Boeing for the development and production of the Brimstone system.


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