IOP Institute of Physics

For physics • For physicists • For all


For the development of a missile-system upgrade that combined two guidance modes for greater precision. The innovation has provided new capability for UK and coalition armed forces.


In 2007, in response to the situation in Afghanistan, the Royal Air Force issued an Urgent Operational Requirement for a precision weapon to defeat a range of static and fast-moving targets in restrictive rules of engagement. The requirement included “man-in-the-loop” capability, allowing human operators to reduce the possibility of collateral damage.

To meet this requirement, MBDA developed the Dual Mode Brimstone missile by introducing an upgrade to the existing Brimstone seeker and guidance systems. This was achieved by adding a semi-active laser-targeting mode to the original millimetre wave sensor (without increasing its size) and by data fusion between the two sensors. Innovation lies within the optics, the mechanical design and the processing, with 80% of the original components retained and the new design requiring only a modification to the existing seeker and revised software.

By making maximum use of the original components, MBDA was able to deliver this upgrade for the cost of a comparatively small incremental development. Dual Mode Brimstone’s greater acquisition range, accuracy and agility now provides UK and coalition armed forces with a unique and transformational capability.


The company
MBDA is a multinational group with 10,000 employees working across France, the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain and the US. It is the first truly integrated European defence company and works with more than 90 armed forces worldwide. The UK has three sites, including Stevenage, where research and development takes place.

Cookie Settings