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UK MoD equipment plan reveals delays to UK Complex Weapons programmes

The UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) latest equipment plan has revealed a series of in-service date slippages affecting key UK air-launched weapons programmes, including Brimstone 3A, Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) Block 6, and the integration of the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile on the F-35 Lightning II.

Published on 21 February, Defence Equipment Plan 2021 is the 10th annual summary of MoD's plans to deliver and support the equipment required by the armed forces. This year's edition – the first to be released since the government's Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development, and Foreign Policy – includes updated summaries of the MoD's major weapon and equipment procurements.

The Team Complex Weapons construct – underpinned by a Portfolio Management Agreement between the MoD and MBDA – is responsible for delivering the UK's enduring complex weapons requirements, and sustaining the ability to indigenously develop leading-edge complex weapons technologies. In its overview of the portfolio, Defence Equipment Plan 2021 acknowledges that while many delays can be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, technical and integration difficulties have also had an impact on a number of development efforts.

On the MBDA Brimstone 3A air-to-surface precision-guided missile – intended to progressively replace Brimstone 2 on Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon combat aircraft as part of routine stockpile management – Defence Equipment Plan 2021 reveals that entry into service is being delayed until spring 2024 as a result of “manufacturer delays” attributed to both hardware integration issues and Covid-19. In-service date was originally set for October 2022, indicating a slippage of approximately 18 months.

An MBDA spokesperson told Janes,

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