The Lightweight Multi-role Missile (LMM) is being developed by Thales. Credit: Think Defence.
The LMMs will be fitted on the Royal Navy’s new AW159 Wildcat attack helicopters. Credit: Thales.
The LMM was integrated with Schiebel S-100 Camcopter unmanned aerial vehicle at Farnborough Airshow 2008. Credit: MilborneOne.

The Lightweight Multi-role Missile (LMM) is a very short-range, precision strike air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile designed and being produced by Thales for the UK Armed Forces.

The LMM is intended to deliver high accuracy and precision strike capabilities with low collateral damage effect against a variety of threats encountered by armoured personnel carriers, small surface vessels, fast inshore attack crafts and towed artillery/static installations.

It can be integrated on board land, air and naval platforms such as wheeled and tracked vehicles, lightweight tactical helicopters and fixed or rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It can also be deployed in conventional and asymmetric littoral operations.

Thales received a €56m ($75.8m) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in June 2014 to manufacture and integrate LMM as the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapons Light (FASGW-L) system on to the Royal Navy’s AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat maritime attack helicopters.

The FASGW-L missile system consists of five barrel launchers and a laser guidance system.

Development of LMM

The LMM missile was unveiled in the UK in 2007 and was introduced to the US market at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition held in October 2008.

Development began in 2008 and a total of 1,000 missiles were produced initially. The MoD placed a contract with Thales UK in April 2011 for full-scale development, qualification testing and series production of LMM in laser beam rider version.

Thales and ASELSAN partnered in 2010 for the joint development of a Missile Launcher System, which incorporates LMM missiles.

The first stage test firing demonstration took place in 2014. The parties signed a new cooperation agreement in February 2015 for the continuation of the joint development and further firings of the LMM Missile Launcher System for naval platforms.

The Missile Launcher System features a two-axis gyro-stabilised turret, a laser range finder and an electro-optical (EO) suite. It can be equipped with four/eight ready-to-fire LMM missiles.

Design and features of the multi-role missile

The low cost, covert, flexible LMM missile features soft launch design and has a shelf life of 15 years. It has immediate launch, high lethality and fire on-the-move capabilities. It is controlled by a highly accurate control actuator system.

The missile measures 1.3m in length, 0.26m in wingspan and 76mm in diameter. It has a maximum weight of 13kg. It is equipped with a modular shaped charge/pre-fragmented blast warhead, which weighs up to 3kg. The warhead is activated by a highly sensitive laser proximity fuse.

The versatile design of the weapon system allows it to be configured to function as an all-in-one weapon system for larger naval platforms or as a hybrid missile/gun system fitted with LMM and integrated with naval guns. It can also be customised for integration on a fast patrol boat.

Missile guidance

Guidance for the LMM missile is provided from an optical tracker system attached to the launch platform. The missile can be operated in multiple secure guidance modes including laser beam riding, automatic guidance and laser designation to ensure precision attack of targets with man-in-the-loop. It can also be equipped with IR terminal homing guidance with INS and GPS navigation, as well as semi-active laser guidance.

The guidance section is part of an optically stabilised mount, featuring charge-coupled device (CCD) and thermal cameras connected with an automatic target tracker (ATT) and missile laser guidance unit.

Propulsion and performance of LMM

The LMM missile’s propulsion system consists of a two-stage rocket motor. It has a velocity of more than Mach 1.5 and an operational range between 6km and 8km, while the minimum range is 400m.