A missile system designed to combat agile, asymmetrical surface-based threats has proven its potential for a maritime role after a scoring seven out of seven hits in a successful firing trial “at sea”.
Naval forces are becoming increasingly concerned by the asymmetrical warfare or terrorist threat posed by operators from Fast Inshore Attack Craft, RIBs or even jet skis. However, the versatile, stabilisation and precision guidance of the Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM), developed by Thales, may offer a simple solution.
At a range of 5.5km, LMM lived up to its multirole title against a five-metre target towed at 20 knots to simulate a speedboat terrorist attack during a trial at a UK coastal range in April.
To demonstrate its capability to hit a moving target from a moving platform, a naval Missile Integrated Launcher System (MILAS) developed by Thales and Aselsan was mounted on a six degrees of freedom table, which can simulate the motion of any vessel, from a small patrol vessel to a frigate up to Sea State Four.
Despite the challenging environment the LMM telemetry rounds (no warhead), were successfully guided and achieved a hit within a metre of the target. A final Combat standard (Warhead) LMM achieved a direct hit of the small target causing severe damage to the vessel.
“We held this trial to test the firing platform and the missile and show they can be fired from a ship,” said Thales spokesperson in Belfast. “It was a great success, showing the precision strike capability of LMM against small targets works in difficult environments. This trial was as representative as you can get without actually putting it on a boat.
“The theory is proven and next setup is to put the launcher system on the ship and test it for real, which will be carried out later in the year.”
Thales expects the trial, shown on the video above, to excite global interest.
Land and air tested
LMM is built in Belfast by Thales and the mature product has already been proven during a verification process with UK MOD and is due to enter service with the British Army this year. Fired from a tripod launcher (LML-NG), a mobile wheeled vehicle (RAPIDRanger) and the Stormer vehicle, LMM will provide defence against surface and air targets.
Thales has also been contracted to supply LMM to the Royal Navy under the FASGW(L), Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light) programme. It is being integrated on the Royal Navy’s Wildcat Helicopter and the programme is due to be completed in 2020.
The recent firing proves LMM’s capability to defeat agile FIAC targets and Thales is now preparing to conduct the next stage of qualification with technical trials from a Royal Navy warship.
What makes LMM different?
LMM’s stabilising system, guidance and precision strike capability, make it ideal for a ‘cluttered’ naval environment. The MILAS firing system provides accurate stabilisation of its electro optics, to ensure accurate target tracking and the correct launch angles for the missile, allowing operators to guide the missile onto its target regardless of sea spray or platform motion.
The stabilised LMM Pannier is also highly versatile and can be integrated onto other gun system mounts.