The United Kingdom is supplying Ukraine with Brimstone precision-guided missiles to help repel the Russian advance in the Donbas region, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey confirmed.
According to James Heappey, the UK will be sending “hundreds” of these Brimstone precision-guided missiles within the “next few weeks.” However, he declined to confirm exactly how many missiles were being sent.
More so, much has been said about how the Brimstone missiles would be used as a weapon could be utilized as air-to-surface missiles and surface-to-surface missiles. The Times reported earlier that the Brimstones being supplied to Ukraine were anti-ship weapons as the Brimstone has the Sea Spear variant, a naval-launched maritime variant that can sink large vessels and amphibious landing ships.
On the other hand, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace claimed that the Brimstone missiles would be used over the ground. This directly refutes earlier statements regarding Brimstone’s use as anti-ship weapons. However, Wallace did state that it is possible that the UK would send anti-ship missiles separately in the future.
Earlier, the British Defense Secretary said they committed to selling Brimstone missiles and fast-attack patrol boats to Ukraine about two years ago. They said they would not hesitate to supply the Ukrainians with the Brimstone.
“We would do that. They are not at present in the country. Those ships have not been yet purchased or delivered,” Wallace said. “However, if we wish to provide Brimstones in whatever guises they are, I will inform members of this House when we do it.”
“I don’t close it off as an opportunity. I think it’s a legitimate thing. First and foremost, we will look to provide, if we do, Brimstone for the land, using stock we already hold but not as yet on the sea,” he added.
Adding to the confusion of the whole scenario is UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He pledged that they would be sending a new anti-ship missile system to Ukraine as part of their £100m military assistance package. This also includes 800 anti-tank missiles. Speculation has also led many to believe that Harpoon anti-ship missiles would be sent to Ukraine.
Regardless of what is the actual variant of the Brimstone being sent, it has been confirmed that they are on their way and that the Ukrainians could put them to good use either over the ground or underwater.
This support package follows the British donation of Stormer and Starstreak systems to Ukraine. The Starstreak (also known as the Starstreak High-Velocity Missile) is a MANPADS produced by Thales that is reported to be immune from jamming by infrared countermeasures.
“I can now announce to the House that we will be gifting a small number of armored vehicles fitted with launchers for those anti-air missiles,” said Wallace. “The Stormer vehicles will give Ukrainian forces enhanced, short-range anti-air capabilities both day and night.”
As SOFREP’s very own Guy McCardle explained, Starstreak rockets can be placed on the turret of the Stormer vehicles and break into three separate projectiles after being fired. At 2,000 miles per hour, the Starstreak missile is known as the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile system in the world. According to reports, the Ukrainians have been using the system to great effect, shooting down a Russian Mi-28N attack helicopter. It reportedly split the attack helicopter in half.
“To date, we’ve sent over 90,000 ration packs, over ten pallets of medical equipment, more than 3,000 pieces of body armor, nearly 77,000 helmets and 3,000 pairs of boots, and much more, including communications equipment and ear defense,” Wallace said.
Brimstone Specs and Capabilities
The Brimstone missile, developed by European missile manufacturer MBDA, is a lightweight strike missile equipped with a dual-mode millimeter-wave/semi-active laser seeker that enables the system to destroy moving vehicles or vessels at sea.
The Brimstone can be launched in two modes, indirect and direct. Indirect targeting fire and forget is mainly utilized when the targets are beyond the aircraft’s line of sight. When in direct mode, the pilot utilizes an on-board targeting system to determine where to fire prior to the missile’s release.
It has a length of 180mm, a weight of 110 lbs., and a diameter of 180mm. It can also be launched in salvos to destroy multiple targets. Its warheads include a tandem shaped charge, command fuze, and impact, while the Sea Spear variant utilizes a tandem shaped charge with inertial navigation millimetric Wave (mmW) SAL. The Brimstone 2 has a reported max range of 37 miles (unverified), while the air-launched versions could hit targets up to 15.5 miles away. The Sea Spear, on the other hand, has a max range of 12.5 miles.
In the UK, it is used in the Tornado GR4, Typhoon F2 aircraft, and the RAF Harrier G7. The air-launched and ground-launched versions of the Brimstone are known to be capable of penetrating “all known conventional and reactive armor.”
The Ukrainians will be the first country to operate vehicle-mounted or ship-launched Brimstones if determined that these variants were the ones sent to Ukraine as all other Brimstone operators are using them as air-launched Brimstones.