Lightweight Multirole Missile
The Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM; previously known as FASGW(L)) is a lightweight air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile under development by Thales Air Defence for the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has placed an initial order for 1,000 missiles and deliveries were due to start in 2013. The missile is known as Martlet in British service.
|Lightweight Multirole Missile|
S-100 fitted with a Lightweight Multirole Missile
|Type||Light Air-to-surface and Surface-to-surface missile|
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Used by||Royal Navy|
|Manufacturer||Thales Air Defence|
|Mass||13 kg (28.6 lbs)|
|Length||1.3 m (4 ft 3 inches)|
|Diameter||76 mm (3 inches)|
|Warhead||3 kg (6.6 lbs)|
|Laser proximity sensor|
|Propellant||2-stage solid propellant|
|8 km (5 miles)|
|Multi-mode guidance (Laser beam riding and/or semi-active laser guidance & terminal infrared homing)|
LMM was initially conceived as Thales' response to the MoD's Future Air-to-Surface Guided Weapon (Light) FASGW(L) requirement. LMM has been designed to be launched from a variety of naval, air and land platforms against a wide range of targets. High precision reduces collateral damage and makes the missile suitable for asymmetric littoral operations. Development began in 2008 and the LMM uses technology from an earlier Thales missile, the Starstreak. Qualification testing and initial production commenced in late 2011, following an initial contract by the UK Ministry of Defence in April 2011. Thales has conducted successful guidance control firings, including a semi-active laser (SAL) version.
The MoD contract includes the design, development and qualification of a laser beam rider version of LMM, together with production of an initial quantity of 1,000 missiles. These will be operated from the new Wildcat and Thales graphics have shown helicopters carrying twin 7 round launchers. These are due to enter service in 2015. The contract was funded by a deal to "re-role previously contracted budgets to facilitate the full-scale development, series production and introduction of the LMM." In other words, other contract(s) were cut and the funds switched to paying for LMM. The most likely contract affected is for the Starstreak, which is approaching the end of its term.
- Maritime – LMM will be carried on the new Lynx Wildcat helicopters of the Royal Navy for use against small surface vessels. ASELSAN of Turkey has developed dedicated mounting systems which can also enable the LMM to be launched from naval platforms such as fast attack craft (FAC).
- Surface-to-surface – The dual-effect (blast fragmentation and shaped charge) of the LMM's warhead makes it suitable for use against a wide range of ground targets including light/medium armour.
- Air-launched – The missile's modular design allows for future development and introduction of alternative warheads and seekers.
- Surface-to-air – In July 2019, the Air Defence Troop of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group tested LMMs in a surface-to-air mode against Banshee drones.
The LMMs in the initial batch use laser beam riding with infrared terminal homing and a laser proximity sensor, although a semi-active laser version is under development for precision surface attack roles.
In July 2014, Thales unveiled a modification of the LMM that turns it into a glide bomb, called the FreeFall LMM (FFLMM). Thales partnered with Textron to market it as the Fury for the U.S. market, who provides a height-of-burst sensor and electronic safe and arm device. The weapon had been in development for 18 months and undergone initial test drops in August 2013. In comparison to the LMM, the FFLMM removes the rocket motor and associated components while keeping the body and control actuators, as well as adding INS and GPS navigation, semi-active laser guidance in place of the beam-riding system, and four enlarged fins for increased lift.
The bomb is not intended to replace larger munitions, but be used as a smaller and cheaper alternative to self-propelled missiles, with three bombs able to fit on a single Hellfire missile rail. It is 70 cm (28 in) long, weighs 5.8 kg (12.7 lb), and uses a 2 kg (4.4 lb) dual-effect shaped charge and pre-fragmented blast warhead for use against armored vehicles, small boats, and personnel, with an operational range of 4 km (2.5 mi) when launched at 10,000 ft (3,000 m). A potential role for the Fury could be to arm medium intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) UAVs like the RQ-7 Shadow to deal with fleeting or time-sensitive targets.
Surface to Surface role testing
On an unspecified date in early 2019 HMS Sutherland tested a modified mounting for the 30mm cannon which incorporated a launcher for five Martlet LMMs, by firing four of them at a small speedboat target at the Aberporth range in Wales. The concept of mounting the missile alongside the 30mm Bushmaster cannon was tested just 5 months after the idea's conception.
The intended role of the Martlet is to further extend the Type 23's capabilities against small, fast moving targets beyond the current 30mm, GPMG and Minigun options to provide a long range ‘stand-off’ ability. It is not yet clear whether the Royal Navy intends to equip any more Type 23s with the system.
- "Britain orders 1,000 Thales LMM missiles".
- Type 26 Global Combat Ship (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 9 October 2014. p. 3. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
- "Thales's Lightweight Multirole Missile on show at IMDEX - Thales UK". Retrieved 23 July 2016.
- "Direct Sting: Thales Small LMM / FASGW-L Missiles". Retrieved 23 July 2016.
- "First production contract for Thales's Lightweight Multi-role Missile announced - Thales UK". Retrieved 23 July 2016.
- "Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis: IHS Jane's - IHS".
- "ROYAL MARINES UNLEASH NEW LIGHTWEIGHT MISSILES". Royal Navy. Wales. 4 July 2019. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
- Thales Reveals 6-Kg Glide Bomb For UAVs - Aviationweek.com, 14 July 2015
- Textron’s big hopes for its small guided bomb - Flightglobal.com, 14 July 2014
- Mini-Munitions Drawing Big Attention - Defensenews.com, 14 July 2014
- "Navy's new anti-ship missile bang on target | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 19 July 2019.