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UK pledges Brimstone missiles, Malloy drones and EW systems to Ukraine

4th May 2022 - 13:21 GMT | by Harry Lye in London


Rendering of the maritime Brimstone missile. (Photo: MBDA)

The UK has expanded its support for Kyiv with the supply of Brimstone anti-ship missiles, Malloy heavy-lift drones and other systems.

Speaking to the Ukrainian Parliament via video link on 3 May, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that Brimstone anti-ship missiles would be delivered to Ukraine in the coming weeks.

The UK is supplying the maritime variant of the missile to Ukraine and various other equipment — including specialised Toyota Land Cruisers, electronic warfare systems, GPS jammers, Stormer armoured vehicles, heavy-lift UAVs and counter-battery radars — will also be sent to the country as it continues to resist the Russian invasion.

Supply of the Brimstone missiles has been speculated for weeks; it is understood that the missiles will be land-launched, helping Ukraine to protect under-threat towns and cities such as Odessa on the Black Sea coast.

Russian naval assets have kept the remaining Ukrainian-held areas of the Black Sea coast under blockade — but despite having a minimal naval arsenal to hand, Ukraine has scored high-profile hits against the Russian Black Sea Fleet, sinking the flagship Slava-class cruiser Moskva with a pair of homegrown Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.

Ukraine also destroyed the Alligator-class landing ship Saratov and damaged other vessels on 24 March after a missile strike on the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk.

Shephard understands that the heavy-lift UASs being supplied to Ukraine by the UK are probably Malloy Aeronautics heavy-lift aircraft that have been trialled by the RN and Royal Marines (RM).

The Malloy T150 has a maximum payload of 68kg, has a 70km plus range and can reach a cruising speed of 30m/s.

For Ukraine, the drones could resupply forces in positions that traditional logistics cannot reach.

Malloy UASs have been tested moving supplies from ship to shore, removing the need to fly more expensive, crewed helicopter aircraft for certain missions.

In past exercises, the UASs have also been used to drop Remus underwater vehicles into the sea to scan for threats and help commanders decide the best routes to shore for RM Commando forces.

A weaponised version of the Malloy UAS was shown at DSEI 2021 armed with the lightweight ASW Sting Ray torpedo.

Royal Marines Commandos receive a bergan drop from Malloy Aeronautics heavy lift aircraft during Exercise Olympus Warrior in 2020. (Photo: UK MoD/ Crown Copyright)

The supply of Stormer armoured vehicles, which provide a mobile platform for the Starstreak High-Velocity Missile (HVM), was previously announced by UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in Parliament on 25 April.

Man-portable Starstreak HVM systems have already been delivered to Ukraine.

Johnson said that Brimstone and Stormer would be delivered in the coming weeks. When asked by Shephard, a UK MoD representative would not disclose the number of Stormers being transferred or where Ukrainian personnel would be trained to operate the vehicle.

According to the British Army, the armoured vehicle, itself a development of CVR(T), can carry eight ready-to-fire Starstreak missiles with nine more stored inside the hull.

Justin Bronk, RUSI research fellow and editor of RUSI Defence Systems, told Shephard: 'Like the man-portable version of Starstreak, HVM would give the Ukrainian forces a short-range air defence system that is immune to countermeasures and hence extremely lethal against both helicopters and fast jets which come within its range.

'A vehicle mounted version gives benefits in terms of being able to carry multiple ready-to-fire rounds at once and move more rapidly to where it may be needed. However, it is harder to hide and more vulnerable to destruction by ATGMs, artillery or direct fire than dug-in infantry with Starstreak.'

In terms of EW, the UK said it would supply GPS jamming equipment and unspecified 'electronic warfare equipment'.

EW analyst Thomas Withington told Shephard that the equipment supplied by the UK would probably be used for three priorities: interrupting GNSS satellite navigation systems, disrupting Russian communications and jamming its radar capabilities.

Withington remarked that the Ukrainian war 'seems to be primarily a land-driven campaign... with air and sea playing perhaps a secondary role to an extent'.

He added: 'Because of that, from the EW perspective, the need to jam land-based comms becomes very important.'

Withington explained how GNSS jamming could essentially be achieved either by bombarding the signal with noise to disrupt it, or by hacking the signal and spoofing it somehow.

However, he added that Russia went into the war expecting GNSS to be jammed, saying: 'They've taken a lot of efforts to try and ensure that any GNSS jamming is degraded as much as possible or causes the least amount of problems for them.

'They've been relying on other things like a combination of systems like Loran, which is a radio navigation system, and then also standard things like inertial navigation systems that are not going to be requiring GNSS, and then just straightforward map and map and pencil.'

UK aid to Ukraine also extends to the donation (by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) of 13 armoured Toyota Land Cruisers, which can be used to evacuate people from shelled areas and transport officials.

The vehicles will also be used by the Ukrainian National Guard and police to support rail infrastructure repair efforts in the east of the country, where much of the fighting is now focused.

The specialised 4x4s are resistant to bullets, anti-personnel mines and IEDs.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: 'The intentional targeting of innocent civilians is a war crime. This latest donation of armoured vehicles will help protect innocent Ukrainians attempting to flee Russian shelling and support Ukrainian officials carrying out vital work.'

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