UK Royal Marines test new Lightweight Multirole Missiles

UK’s Royal Marines have tested their ability to take out airborne targets with a new laser-guided missile system on the ranges in south Wales.

Air Defence Troop of Plymouth-based 30 Commando IX Group is the first sub unit to use the fresh-out-the-packet Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) system.

The exercise took place at the Air Defence Range Manorbier in southwest Wales.

Drones were launched and, from a platform looking out to sea, the commandos used the laser-guided missiles to accurately hone in on their targets.

The missile is fired from a small shoulder launcher and the operator guides it using a joystick which controls a laser beam on which the projectile flies.

“It gives us more utility across the battlefield and gives the brigade a different option,” Captain James O’Rourke, Officer Commanding of Air Defence Troop, said.

The new missile – which can travel more than 6km – is intended to replace the High Velocity Missile (HVM) currently used by the marines and Royal Artillery.

“Air Defence Royal Marines is the first sub unit to use this missile. Currently we’ve had 18 successful shots against the Banshee drone. I think in the future we’ll be attached to close combat rifle companies, pushing forward and potentially targeting Unmanned Aerial Systems and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the skies as opposed to sticking with fixed wing rotary targets,” Captain James O’Rourke, Officer Commanding of Air Defence Troop, said.

The LMM travels at half the speed of the old one but it allows for greater accuracy as the operator has more time to close in on the target. It is also lighter.

“It means we can start enabling attacks on targets that won’t be able to see us. It’s got a laser beam system as well and it’s a passive system so we won’t be spotted by the enemy when we pull the trigger,” Capt O’Rourke added.

Banshee drone. Photo: Royal Navy

The target Banshee drones are fast and small and are designed to be missed and survive multiple missile runs. They trail smoke to help the operator locate it due to its small size.

The miss distance is then measured using radar and if the missile is within a certain distance of the drone then the engagement is deemed a success.

The first missile fired destroyed the target so they then fired at other Banshees using an ‘optical wedge’ which puts the operators aim off a tiny bit and saves target drones but still allows the Royal Artillery instructors and Thales technicians to gauge the success of the engagement.

LMM can be mounted on vehicles, ships and helicopters and can be used against surface and air targets.

Related: Thales to upgrade Royal Navy Martlet missile as part of £90m contract

Photo: Banshee drone. Photo: Royal Navy