Air-Launched Weapons

UK retires ALARM missile

21 January 2014
A Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR.4 strike aircraft carrying two ALARM missiles on underwing hardpoints. (Jamie Hunter)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed the final retirement of the Air-Launched Anti-Radiation Missile (ALARM), a move which leaves the Royal Air Force (RAF) without a dedicated defence suppression weapon.

Developed by what was British Aerospace Dynamics - later subsumed into MBDA - ALARM was developed under Air Staff Requirement 1228 to provide RAF Tornados with a defence suppression capability. Completing development trials in October 1990, the missile made its operational debut in the 1991 Gulf War, with more than 120 missiles fired as part of Operation 'Granby'.

ALARM was subsequently used in support of NATO's Operation 'Allied Force' over Serbia and Kosovo in 1999.

An ALARM seeker mid-life update, introduced to meet Staff Requirement (Air) 1247, saw an improved anti-radiation homing seeker enter service in the early 2000s. This version of ALARM was employed by Tornado GR.4 aircraft during Operation 'Telic' in 2003.

In a statement to IHS Jane's , the MoD confirmed that "the ALARM missile, used for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defences [SEAD], was retired from service at the end of December 2013".

It added: "UK armed forces have a range of capabilities that can be used to counter enemy air defence, including kinetic strikes via long-range cruise missiles, such as Tomahawk and Storm Shadow, and a multitude of highly effective precision air-to-ground weapons.

"Additionally, it is likely that we will work with our international partners on future major operations overseas and will therefore manage all of our capabilities as part of that coalition."



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