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Wildcat trials Martlet missile in counter-UAS role

A Leonardo Wildcat HMA2 helicopter firing a Thales Martlet multirole missile during recent trials. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Royal Navy (RN) Wildcat Maritime Force has completed first air-to-air firings of the Thales Martlet multirole missile as part of the latest live trials of the weapon from the Wildcat HMA2 helicopter.

Performed on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Aberporth range in west Wales, the activity – known as Trial Triton's Arrow III – culminated with a successful air-to-air firing against an unmanned aerial target. This milestone test has proved a new counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) capability, according to the RN.

The Martlet weapon system, based on the Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM), has been procured to satisfy the RN's Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light) – FASGW(L) – requirement. While FASGW(L) is primarily intended to provide Wildcat with a lightweight precision-strike weapon capable of delivering proportionate effects against fast inshore attack craft and other small vessels, the laser beam riding LMM can also be used against land and air targets.

In a social media post released on 21 July 825 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) – the RN's Wildcat HMA2 training squadron – revealed that it had just completed Triton Arrow III at MoD Aberporth over a two-week period alongside QinetiQ, the Maritime Warfare Centre, Thales, 815 NAS (the RN's front-line Wildcat squadron) and 744 NAS (as part of the Air Test and Evaluation Centre). According to the squadron, the trials were aimed at “improving Martlet lethality by looking at improving [maximum] range against targets moving [at] up to 50 kt”, adding that Triton Arrow III “culminated in night firings and the first ever UK helicopter air-to-air firings versus a Banshee drone”.

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