In the context of modern warfare, there has been a noticeable shift away from traditional large-scale confrontations towards more asymmetric conflicts. In such scenarios, the battlefield can be dispersed and unpredictable, spanning diverse environments like urban areas, dense forests, and rugged terrains. Traditional heavy armor and large infantry formations may encounter challenges in adapting to these settings. Unveiled by MBDA at DSEI 2023, the Hydra 400 drone, now armed with Brimstone anti-tank missiles, emerges as a new component in this evolving landscape.
The Hydra 400, featuring a compact design and rapid deployment capability, is well-suited for these asymmetric battlefields. Its compactness ensures easy transportation in vehicles like the Toyota Hilux, and its quick assembly time of just six minutes allows for swift deployment in critical situations.
The drone employs single spool jet turbines, generating a thrust of 500 Newtons, enabling it to carry up to 400 kg. Its advanced Exail VEGA Inertial Navigation System ensures continuous operations even in GPS-denied environments. Equipped with the L3Harris Gnat HD Stores Release Unit, the drone can carry multiple systems, extending its range and weapon capabilities. Additionally, it offers options for integration with battlefield management system software, potentially enhancing its utility in the modern battlefield.
The integration of the Brimstone missile system, known for its adaptability to multiple platforms, with the Hydra 400 platform holds the potential to enhance the capabilities of tactical land forces, as the missile is recognized for its effectiveness in targeting various threats, including stationary, moving, and maneuvering assets such as Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), armored vehicles, and mobile enemy units. The Brimstone’s all-weather fire-and-forget capability is designed for reliability, and it can effectively counter Defensive Aid Suites and Active Protection Systems.
Manufactured by MBDA, the Brimstone missile has a weight of 50 kg and a length of 1.8 m with an operational range spanning from 12 to 60 km depending on the variant. The initial production model has a range of up to 12 km when launched from a helicopter and up to 20 km when launched from an aircraft.
The missile’s warhead features adaptive fusing, potentially enhancing its effectiveness against a range of targets. It also incorporates a 94GHz millimetric Wave (mmW) radar and a Semi-Active Laser (SAL) for targeting. These flexible engagement modes include SAL, SAL/mmW, and mmW modes. In dual mode, SAL guidance can transition to mmW guidance for increased accuracy when the missile locks onto its target. The Brimstone missile, when mounted on the Hydra 400, supports rapid salvo capabilities, enabling various strike types and making it versatile in complex battlefield scenarios.