Fire Shadow

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Fire Shadow was a missile designed by MBDA for the British Army.[1] 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.[2]


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.[3]

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,[4][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.[5]


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.[6] Operator training started in 2011,[7] with the first deliveries of production systems in March 2012.[8] It was planned that 39th Regiment Royal Artillery would be the first unit to receive the system,[7][dead link] and would deploy it in Afghanistan in 2012. [6] The plan was later dropped and in its Jan 2013 Major Projects Report, the National Audit Office reported that after spending £207 million, the Ministry of Defence was still deciding on the future of the project. [9]


  1. ^ "MBDA delivers first Fire Shadow loitering weapons". Flightglobal. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "House of Commons Written Answers". Hansard. UK Parliament. 11 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Fire Shadow Takes To The Sea". Aviation Week. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "TYPE 45 - The Anti-Air Warfare Destroyer". Royal Navy. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b 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. 
  7. ^ a b "After Libya, Europe Eyes Precision Arms". 23 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Hoyle, Craig (21 Mar 2012). "MBDA delivers first Fire Shadow loitering weapons". London: Flight International. 
  9. ^ Hoyle, Craig (10 Jan 2013). "Fresh delay hits UK complex weapons programmes". London: Flight International.