Fire Shadow

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Fire Shadow is a loitering munition designed by MBDA for the British Army.[1] It is designed to loiter above the 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 200 kg and is relatively low-cost. It is surface-launched and has a range of approximately 100 km; 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 released in January 2009 revealed that Fire Shadow was compatible with the space envelope of the SYLVER vertical launch system of the Type 45 destroyer,[4] but this option has not been mentioned since the Strategic Defence and Security Review 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) took place on 21 November 2010 at Vidsel, 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 operationally in Afghanistan by 2012.[6] This plan, however, never materialised.

In 2013, the National Audit Office (NAO) reported in its 2013 Major Projects Report that after spending £207 million, the Ministry of Defence had yet to decide on a future for the project.[9] However, Fire Shadow was listed in the National Audit Office's 2014 Major Projects Report as being among the eleven largest equipment projects where the Ministry of Defence has taken the main decision to invest.[10]


  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" (PDF). Royal Navy. 22 January 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 April 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. 
  10. ^ "Major Projects Report 2014 and the Equipment Plan 2014 to 2024" (PDF). National Audit Office. Retrieved 13 January 2014.