MBDA tests the Brimstone missile from a helicopter in 2016
Britain is supplying Ukraine with laser-guided Brimstone 2 missiles, dealing a further blow to Vladimir Putin after Russia’s humiliating retreat from Kherson. The hi-tech projectile, which has a range of 7.5 miles, will be a powerful addition to the armoury of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, almost nine months after Putin ordered his invasion on February 24.
Pictures taken by the British Armed Forces Network showed missiles being loaded onto a plane at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Brimstones are usually launched from the air, but Ukrainian forces often use modified trucks as mobile launch platforms with which they target Russian tanks and other vehicles from a distance
Britain first provided Ukraine with Brimstone missiles in May – but a video released by British Forces Broadcasting Service showed the more advanced version being prepared for transportation.
Brimstone 2 missiles will given Vladimir Putin a headache in Ukraine
Brimstone 2 factfile
Each missile costs £175,000, and uses a laser fired by troops, aircraft or vehicles to track down targets.
They can also use a high-frequency millimetric wave radar to select targets from a pre-programmed list, cutting down the risk of civilian casualties.
Brimstone 1 entered service in 2005 and was upgraded three years later.
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Brimstone 2 missiles loaded on a plane at RAF Brize Norton
Brimstone 2, the next-generation missile, entered service six years ago. It has a range of 7.5 miles when launched from land and 37 miles if launched from a jet, and is equipped with a 6.3kg (13.9lbs) warhead.
It is designed to hit ground-based targets, including moving vehicles, but a maritime version has also been developed which can hit fast-moving vessels such as speed boats.
Speaking in 2016, then-Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said: “Brimstone has proven to be a key weapon in coalition operations against Daesh and these improvements, made possible through sustained Government support, build on that success.
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Brimstone 2: A missile is launched in an MBDA Systems video
Brimstone 2 of a missile being launched by a helicopter
“The MOD’s £170million investment in Brimstone 2 will increase the effectiveness of UK air power and provide a significant boost to the national economy, sustaining around 250 jobs across the South West and South East.”
Group Captain Rich Davies, Station Commander of RAF Marham, added: “Brimstone is the RAF’s weapon of choice in close air support operations.
“It is easy to use, highly accurate against static and moving targets, and allows pilots to tackle threats in a complex environment with maximum effect.
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“Brimstone 2, which builds on experiences using Brimstone in combat, will provide a step up in performance, giving UK pilots an advanced weapon designed for the future battlefield.”
Rishi Sunak, who visited Mr Zelensky in Kyiv at the weekend, took the opportunity to unveil a £50million military aid package including air defence weapons and ammunition to protect Ukraine from Iranian Shahed-136 drones being deployed by Russia.
He said: “I am proud of how the UK stood with Ukraine from the very beginning.
“And I am here today to say the UK and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine, as it fights to end this barbarous war and deliver a just peace.”
Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv at the weekend
Mr Sunak continued: “While Ukraine’s armed forces succeed in pushing back Russian forces on the ground, civilians are being brutally bombarded from the air.
“We are today providing new air defence, including anti-aircraft guns, radar and anti-drone equipment, and stepping up humanitarian support for the cold, hard winter ahead.”
Writing on Telegram, Mr Zelensky said: “We discussed the most important issues both for our countries and for global security.
“We are stronger and we will achieve the desired results.”