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Martlet Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM)
Future Air to Surface Guided Weapon [Light] (FASGW(L)

Sea Skua was a response to missile-armed Soviet fast attack craft, and Martlet is a response to the fast inshore attack craft (FIAC) threat as characterised by those operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The Martlet heritage goes back to a surface to air missile, not an air to surface missile. Javelin replaced Blowpipe and Javelin-S15 (Starburst) replaced Javelin, which was then replaced by Starstreak HVM, much of the technology has evolved into the Martlet Lightweight Multirole Missile. Instead of developing aerodynamic data for a new missile design, Thales used data from Starburst as the starting point, a cost effective and wholly sensible approach.

Lightweight Multirole Missile - LMM (Martlet) is a new lightweight, precision strike, missile, which has been designed to be fired from airborne and ground tactical platforms in surface, ground attack and air defence roles; thus the multirole element of the name.

The missile, sealed in its canister and designed to be maintenance free for 15 years’ storage, consists of a two-stage motor, warhead and dual mode fuse, together with guidance electronics and a highly accurate control actuator system. A combined fragmenting and shaped charge warhead provides proven lethality against a wide range of conventional and asymmetric light skinned and armoured threats. The unique LMM laser guidance beam, generated from a sophisticated Laser Transmitter Unit (LTxU), projects low power coded signals direct to the LMM in flight thus ensuring precision engagement, command override and immunity against countermeasures.

In the naval domain, the system has been designed to counter the challenging threats ranging from Jet Skis and Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC) to larger maritime combatants.

Thales’s Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) system, has been proving its potential on land sea and air throughout 2019 against agile, asymmetrical surface and air threats. Due to go into service with UK Armed Forces LMM provides an enhanced level of protection as well as a transformational surface attack capability. Built in Belfast, LMM has already been proven its capability as a high-accuracy precision weapon against small, fast-moving targets when fired from a tripod launcher (LMLNG), a mobile wheeled vehicle (RAPIDRanger) and the Stormer tracked vehicle. LMM enters service with the British Army this year.

Under the name Martlet, LMM is being supplied to the Royal Navy, under the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light), or FASGW(L), program, fitted to the Navy’s Wildcat Helicopter. An integration programme is due to be completed in 2020. The system also demonstrated its versatility live firings involving a range of platforms, conditions and targets and in three domains.

Lightweight Multirole Missile [LMM] is a lightweight, precision strike multirole missile designed to be fired from a variety of tactical platforms on Land, Sea and Air against a wide range of conventional and asymmetric threats. The target set includes surface threats such as static installations, Armored Personnel Carriers (APC), asymmetric threats, fast in-shore attack craft and UAVs. The precision guidance and low collateral damage mean that LMM is optimised for operation in an urban environment.

On land, over 100 LMM firings have been conducted from land platforms including 90 firings by the Ground Based Air Defence troops from the Royal Marines and Royal Artillery as part of their conversion training for LMM coming into service. These firings verified the excellent lethality of LMM against UAVs, helicopters and even fixed wing aircraft in a point defence deployment, by successfully engaging with the Banshee aerial target.

At sea, LMM offers unique capability to defeat asymmetrical and terrorist threats in the littoral environment, such as Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC), RIBs or even jet skis. The precision laser beam riding guidance concept of LMM and the accurate launcher stabilisation has been demonstrated for the first time in a UK MoD Sponsored TDP with several firings from a T23 Frigate off the Pembrokeshire coast at an operationally representative remote controlled FIAC target.

LMM Naval Target Set includes Fast inshore attack craft, patrol boats, mission kill larger ships. The Maritime environment creates a major challenge to conventional missile in engaging Fast In-shore Attack Craft (FIAC) threats, due to their high mobility, small signature and severe background clutter. Thales unique laser beam riding enables LMM to be accurately and securely guided in these difficult conditions to defeat FIAC targets at the extended ranges need to protect our ships against their swarm tactics.

In the air, the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light) program Martlet completed a successful series of ground based firing trial at Royal Artillery Range Manorbier to validate the Wildcat Fire Control solution including the 5 Missile Pannier and the Laser Guidance Unit integrated in the L3 MX15 Electro Optic Turret. Up to 20 Martlet Missiles can be integrated on the Wildcat helicopter to provide robust defence against swarm threats, and this capability is due in service with the Royal Navy in 2020.

The LMM Air Target Set includes Border protection air threats: helicopters, light aircraft and UAVs. LMM can be deployed on a wide range of versatile launcher systems, from standalone portable launchers or integrated on rapid response high firepower RAPIDRanger vehicle system to provide a Close Range Air Defence System which can destroy threats from light aircraft, helicopters or UAVs. LMM Land Target Set: conventional armor and asymmetric vehicles LMM possesses excellent lethality against conventional and asymmetric threats including APCs, wheeled and tracked vehicles, because of the shaped charge coupled with the pre-fragmented blast warhead, matched with the highly sensitive proximity fuze.

In July 2014, Leonardo signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to integrate, test and install the MBDA Sea Venom (heavy) and Thales LMM (light) missile systems onto Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat helicopters, a programme called Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW).

In 2019 Thales and the Royal Navy conducted a series of successful LMM (Martlet) ship-launched firings from a Type 23 frigate against a representative target set. These firings confirmed that LMM (Martlet) offers a mature, low-cost, high value solution to strengthen the inner layer defence capability of surface ships through re-use of current investment and the commonality and modularity between the helicopter and ship-based systems.

The FASGW (light) part of the program has now seen the LMM, with its associated launcher and airborne laser guidance unit, successfully integrated into the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat sensor, displays and avionics systems. The LMM provides a step-change in capability for the Royal Navy which, in the maritime environment, faces a major challenge in engaging smaller, fast-moving, asymmetric threats, due to their high mobility, their small thermal and radar signatures and the severe background clutter encountered. The LMM is capable of surmounting these issues where traditional electro-optic and radar guidance systems do not provide the certainty of hit required.

On-board the AW159 Wildcat platform, the LMM Martlet could also allow operators to engage air targets such as UAVs and other maritime helicopters. The launchers are mounted to the AW159 via the new Leonardo Weapon Wing, developed at the Company’s design and manufacturing facility in Yeovil and first trialled last year. Each weapon wing will be able to carry either ten Martlet or two Sea Venom missiles and generates additional lift for the helicopter in forward flight, reducing demands on the main rotor.

The twin-engine multi-role AW159 is able to conduct missions ranging from constabulary to high end warfighting where it has the capability to autonomously detect, identify and attack targets on land and at sea, including submarine threats. The high-performance platform has state-of-the-art systems, including a Leonardo Seaspray multi-mode electronically-scanning (E-scan) radar, and integrated electronic warfare Defensive Aids Suite (DAS).

Leonardo and Thales announced 26 May 2020 the first successful firings of the Thales ‘Martlet’ Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) from Leonardo’s AW159 Wildcat helicopter. The firings were conducted as part of the UK MoD’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW) programme and demonstrated the integration of the Martlet onto the AW159 platform. This represents a major milestone for the programme and will enable this high-end capability to enter service with the Royal Navy later this year.

The firing trials were conducted from 27th April to 21st May 2020 and despite the current COVID-19 situation, Leonardo and Thales were able to support the UK Ministry of Defence by completing this critical activity. All of the teams involved had to adopt strict distancing procedures, in some cases having to find new ways of working, in order to make sure that the trials could go ahead. It is a testimony to the professionalism of those involved that these trials were successfully completed under such challenging and novel circumstances.

“This major milestone demonstrates that the combination of the AW159 Wildcat and Martlet missile will be a flexible and effective tool for the Royal Navy. Next year the Wildcat fleet will embark on Carrier Strike Group missions with HMS Queen Elizabeth on its maiden operational deployment. As the only British company to design and manufacture helicopters on-shore, we’re extremely proud to be equipping the UK Armed Forces with world-beating sovereign capabilities.” said Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters (UK).

“The successful live firings of the Thales LMM Martlet from the AW159 Wildcat is a key milestone in the programme, delivering a significant step-change in capability for the platform. LMM Martlet will ensure that the Wildcat has the best-in-class offensive capability to protect HMS Queen Elizabeth and her task group during her maiden operational deployment next year. With each platform capable of carrying up to 20 Martlet, the Wildcats deployed with the task group will be a significant deterrent to anyone wishing to interfere with UK interests.” said Philip McBride, General Manager, Integrated Airspace-protection Systems, Thales UK.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:05:06 ZULU