Blurring the borders between missile and UAS this airframe aims to hurry up and wait for something to happen. Expect to see lots of these making news in 2011.
Many of the primary players involved are all based close to each other in Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire is the UKs area 51 really in the Chilterns?
The Fire Shadow is a low cost, all-weather, 24-hour available, loitering munition intended to meet the United Kingdom (UK) Armed Forces requirement for a weapon system capable of engaging elusive and time sensitive surface targets. This requirement is known in the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) as the IFPA (Indirect Fire Precision Attack) loitering munition system. Fire Shadow weapon system is being proposed by Team LM led by MBDA and comprises Blue Bear Systems Research, Cranfield Aerospace, Cranfield University, Lockheed Martin UK INSYS, Marshalls SV, Meggitt, QinetiQ, Roxel, Selex SAS, Thales UK, Ultra Electronics and VEGA. The IFPA loitering munition system assessment phase is due to commenced in 2008 with the resulting weapon system achieving initial operational capability by 2012.
Fire Shadow could be launched over a battle zone, loiter for several hours and then rapidly strike a suitable target when it appears while still conforming to increasingly demanding rules of engagement. Man In The Loop (MITL) capability will ensure the weapon system remains under control of an operator on the ground after its release avoiding collateral damage. Besides, network-centric operations capability will mean that the Fire Shadow would be fed with target real-time imagery once it has been released from sources such as UK MoD Watchkeeper or planned ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) networks.
According to MBDA, Fire Shadow will be capable of loitering for 10 hours over operating ranges of 150 km and engaging targets with a sub-metric (less than one meter) Circular Error Probable (CEP). Team LM expects to keep the unitary cost of the Fire Shadow munition around the cost of a current guided rocket.