Fire Shadow is a missile designed by MBDA for the British Army. It is designed to loiter above a battlefield for up to 6 hours before attacking stationary or mobile targets. The cost of Phase 1 of the programme, including concept, assessment, demonstration and initial manufacture, was forecast at around £200 million in 2011.
Fire Shadow weighs less than 200kg and is relatively low-cost. It is surface-launched, and has a range of approximately 100km; it can fly to a target area and then loiter for approximately six hours before precision attack on a specific target. Test launches have been performed from a trailer on land.
A Royal Navy brochure in January 2009 pointed out that Fire Shadow is "compatible with the space envelope" of the SYLVER vertical launch system of the Type 45 destroyer,[dead link] but this option has not been mentioned since the SDSR of 2010. Instead MBDA have pursued Maritime Fire Shadow as a private venture, with no customers as yet. Their marketing materials at DSEi in September 2011 showed what appeared to be a similar launcher to that used on land, lashed to the helicopter deck of a frigate or helicopter carrier.
The first complete test-firing (a test of flight, navigation, and control systems) was on 21 November 2010, at Vidsel in Sweden, followed by a second on 13 May 2011. Operator training started in 2011, with the first deliveries of production systems in March 2012. It was planned that 39th Regiment Royal Artillery would be the first unit to receive the system,[dead link] and would deploy it in Afghanistan in 2012. MBDA have reported "discussions with a number of customers to try and secure wider interest in the programme".
- "MBDA delivers first Fire Shadow loitering weapons". Flightglobal. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
- "House of Commons Written Answers". Hansard. UK Parliament. 11 July 2011.
- "Fire Shadow Takes To The Sea". Aviation Week. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
- "TYPE 45 - The Anti-Air Warfare Destroyer". Royal Navy. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
- MBDA propose une munition rodeuse pour les marines (in French), Mer et Marine, 16 September 2011, retrieved 5 April 2012 Includes a video of a Chinook helicopter landing on a ship similar to HMS Ocean to deliver a Fire Shadow canister, which is then lashed to the deck and fired.
- Eshel, Tamir (14 September 2011). "British Army Sets to Deploy Fire Shadow Loitering Weapons to Afghanistan by Early 2012". Defense Update. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "After Libya, Europe Eyes Precision Arms". 23 September 2011.
- Hoyle, Craig (21 Mar 2012). "MBDA delivers first Fire Shadow loitering weapons". London: Flight International.