Britain has bought the latest version of the Brimstone missile. Although once trumpeted as the UK’s unique contribution to coalition airstrikes in Syria, the weapon’s earlier model was barely even used.
The Brimstone 2 is being built at a cost to the taxpayer of up to £170 million. They are said to cost upwards of £100,000 each.
Fans of Brimstone claim the upgraded version of the 2-foot long munition can hit a target from 14 miles away, yet leave anyone near the point of impact unscathed.
The missile’s “unique capabilities” were used to build the case for Britain extending airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) from Iraq into Syria ahead of a parliamentary vote on action in December 2015.
It is unclear whether the missile’s original version had any significant effect on operations on the single reported occasion it was actually used. A strike was publicized by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in January 2016, but did not appear to have eliminated any targets.
Brimstone’s failure to kill anyone was revealed by the Huffington Post through a freedom of information request to the MoD at the time.
“This information contrasts dramatically with the case made by the Prime Minister [then David Cameron] for bombing when he said that the much-lauded Brimstone missile system would be crucial in cutting off the ‘head of the snake’ in Raqqa [the nominal IS capital],” Scottish National Party (SNP) foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond MP told the Huffington Post.
Nevertheless, defense sources have been singing praises to the missile.
“Brimstone II has the same heavyweight punch as its predecessor but can be launched from approximately twice as far away,” a military spokesman told the Daily Mirror on Thursday. “Its cutting-edge seeker and more flexible guidance system means the new missile can defeat more challenging targets with greater accuracy.”