The TLVS bidders consortium, an MBDA Deutschland and Lockheed Martin joint venture, has submitted its proposal to the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) to develop, test and deliver TLVS, Germany’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) system.
The tender proposes an efficient four-phased approach that includes development, integration, testing and delivery of a fielded multi-mission system. The fielded unit will deliver new capabilities and significant performance enhancements well beyond the MEADS program and all known systems.
«A brief glance at the headlines show significant advances in adversarial threats in just the last five years, and we are operating in an environment today where those threats will likely only continue to proliferate», said Dietmar Thelen, managing director of the TLVS joint venture. «Germany needs a future-proof solution that can grow with the emerging threat».
Designed to replace Germany’s aging, sectored Patriot systems designed in the late 1960s, the 2019 TLVS proposal provides protection from a broader threat spectrum with two mission-specific effectors, significantly enhanced radar capabilities for long range engagements and a new communications system to support enhanced interoperability, data fusion and cyber resilience. TLVS will be the first-ever integrated air and missile defense system able to simultaneously detect, track and intercept multiple threat sets, including medium and short-range threats with full 360-degree coverage.
«We’ve completely reimagined TLVS based on customer requirements. Our approach reduces risk, supports lower life cycle costs and enables more effective coalition operations», said Gregory Kee, managing director of the TLVS joint venture. «TLVS will allow Germany to provide regional protection as the Framework Nation for Air and Missile Defense for NATO, with a high degree of system sovereignty».
The TLVS proposal represents the beginning of a new chapter in the longstanding partnership between MBDA Deutschland and Lockheed Martin.
With its integrated plug and fight interface, TLVS is the most advanced, networked 360° IAMD system in the world. It is the only system with the ability to adapt to evolving threats using capabilities that are tailored to the mission. TLVS will transform Germany’s defense capabilities and set an important precedent in how neighboring nations address persistent global threats for years to come.
MBDA presents for the first time its vision of the capabilities that will lie at the heart of the next generation of European air combat systems.
As threats evolve and access denial strategies become ever more complex, with diversified effects combining surface-to-air and air-to-air assets in large scale, air superiority will need to be created on a local and temporary basis. Aircraft and air effectors will need to be able to enter denied areas, see threats before being seen, force hidden threats to uncover early enough to suppress them and to always react quicker than the adversary.
In these ever-faster operations, networked effectors will take an essential part in the combat «cloud», exchanging tactical information and target co-ordinates in real-time with platforms and other network nodes, in order to carry out the desired operational effects. These will also have to deploy robust survivability strategies in front of highly evolving threats. The fight will not only take place between platforms but between enemy networks, and only the most agile and adaptable will win. The engagement of these networked effectors will rely on resilience to any form of aggression (eg: Electronic Warfare, Cyber) as well as on rapid decision aids able to compute complex situations.
MBDA is a key actor able to bring answers to these significant challenges, thanks to its decades long experience in supplying armament capabilities to all Europe’s air combat platforms and to its in-depth understanding of operational and technological issues. This is evidenced by the concepts presented at Paris Air Show, which result from ongoing studies in its domestic nations, whether in cooperation or in the framework of individual national roadmaps. These concepts form a coherent set of capabilities and demonstrate that MBDA can shape innovative responses for the benefit of its customers for their Future Air System projects.
These concepts cover the whole field of key domains:
Deep Strike with cruise missiles using the most advanced options in order to penetrate and open breaches in the most efficient Anti Access Area Denial (A2AD) deployments in the future, for the benefit of friendly forces.
Tactical Strike with stand-off, networked and compact armaments, delivering precision effects but also able to saturate enemy defences thanks to pack or swarm behaviours.
Air-to-Air Combat with, Meteor, which today has no equivalent and will keep its lead and remain a powerful asset for next-generation fighter aircraft.
Self-Protection with the «Hard Kill» anti-missile system that will counter incoming missiles and so provide essential protection during «stand-in» combat, when soft-kill counter-measures and decoys are no longer sufficient. Such a system is able to reverse the balance of power against saturating defences.
Enablers for the penetration of adversary defences thanks to the «Remote Carriers» that deliver multiple effects, whether lethal or non-lethal, as well as new services for munitions such as intelligence, targeting, and deception of enemy sensors.
MBDA Remote Carriers are compact, stealthy, co-operate with other armaments and platforms, and can be launched from combat or transport aircraft, or surface ships. They work as capability extenders for the platforms and the armaments that they accompany.
MBDA is the only European player in the domain of complex weapons able to master all technologies needed for the development of these concepts and their operational chain:
Stealthy or supersonic long-range vehicles;
Very compact airframes and sub-systems for high loadouts, without compromising effects and connectivity performance;
Networking, infrared and radio frequency sensors with data fusion and artificial intelligence for automated target identification in complex environments, threat detection, complex engagements planning, and decision aids.
As it masters these essential technologies as well as all steps in the OODA (Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action) loop, from detection and localisation to damage assessment, MBDA positions itself as the architect of this decision-action chain, which will experience significant breakthroughs in concept and doctrine.
Referring to this presentation, Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, stated: «MBDA’s vision for future air armaments is exhaustive and ambitious, and we are ready to take on the challenge to deliver to our domestic nations the full sovereignty of their future air combat systems by taking part in the definition and development of the armaments that these systems will operate. MBDA has demonstrated that pulling together the best expertise in propulsion, guidance, connectivity and system integration have made Meteor the world best air-to-air missile, giving the pilots of European combat aircraft a decisive operational advantage. Thanks to its decades long culture of co-operation, MBDA will be equally able to develop the next weapons that will ensure European nations can sustain their air superiority in the long term».
The Brimstone 3 ultra-high precision missile system has successfully achieved a major milestone by completing its first firing trial at the Vidsel Trials range in Sweden.
Whilst enduring extreme weather conditions with temperatures below -30°C, the missile was surface launched against a pick-up truck target.
All trials objectives were fully achieved with the missile proving, through a telemetry unit, full closed loop guidance with the seeker progressing into target acquisition and track.
Russell Jamieson, Chief Engineer, said: «The trial further proves Brimstone’s fully flexible platform approach, providing a «one missile, multiple platform» capability, for surface launch, fast jet, Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS), attack helicopter, land and maritime platforms, all utilising the same missile. The result really was a tremendous success, and thanks to the hard work and determination of the whole team».
The demonstrated surface to surface capability builds on the advanced guidance and targeting abilities developed during the Brimstone programme and from hundreds of successful operational firings against targets in structures, main battle tanks/armoured vehicles, maritime vessels, trucks, fast moving and manoeuvring cars/motorbikes and individual targets in the open.
Brimstone 3 is the product of the Brimstone Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP), announced in March 2018, that will provide new Brimstone missiles for the UK Armed Forces in order to replenish the country’s inventory and to maintain the UK’s battlefield edge into the future. It will also provide the ability to fully meet current and future export supply needs.
The new-build Brimstone missiles will incorporate all of the improved functionalities offered by the spiral upgrades of Brimstone that have taken place over recent years which include the highly capable Dual Mode Semi-Active Laser (SAL)/millimetric Wave (mmW) seeker, enhanced autopilot, and the new insensitive munition compliant rocket motor and warhead, all combining to provide unique performance capabilities of Brimstone against the most challenging of targets. The new hardware standard will also enable the addition of further capability upgrades in the future.
A team of BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and MBDA engineers enhancing the capability of the UK’s fleet of F-35 Lightning II aircraft by commencing work on the integration of next generation weapons.
BAE Systems has received an initial funding award from Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 Lightning II programme, to start integration efforts for MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and SPEAR precision surface attack missile.
Under this initial package of work BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin will also complete further integration work with MBDA on Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and with Raytheon on Paveway IV, initially integrated in support of delivering Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the UK.
Tom Fillingham, Senior Vice-President – U.S. Programmes of BAE Systems, said: «BAE Systems engineers played a crucial role in supporting the UK to achieve Initial Operating Capability for its F-35 fleet. Now, working alongside our partners including Lockheed Martin and MBDA, we are using our expertise to take that capability even further with advanced weapons systems such as Meteor and SPEAR. We are extremely proud of the critical contribution UK engineers are playing for both the UK and the global F-35 fleet through the development, production and sustainment of the aircraft».
Cliff Waldwyn, Head of Combat Air, Group Business Development of MBDA, said: «This is a significant milestone for the UK Combat Air’s capability. This initial package of work officially commences the integration of Meteor and SPEAR and will enhance the operational capability of the UK’s Lightning Force in the future; it is also a positive step for the wider F-35 enterprise as it adds additional capability choice for international customers. MBDA’s integration team have worked well with our BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin colleagues and we plan to build on this excellent foundation into the future on this follow-on modernisation work».
Last year, a pilot from 17 Squadron, the RAF’s F-35 Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California took to the skies for the first time with UK weapons, including ASRAAM and Paveway IV.
This followed work carried out during the F-35 Lightning II programme’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) initial testing phase to develop and certify weapons capabilities by an integrated test team. This team includes Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Raytheon and MBDA, working alongside the UK Air Warfare Centre to clear weapons for Operational Testing by Royal Air Force/Royal Navy (RAF/RN) pilots.
MBDA and Milrem Robotics are showcasing the world’s first anti-tank Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) at IDEX 2019, the main defence industry event in the MENA region. The debut of the system’s advanced concept comes only eight months after Milrem Robotics and MBDA announced the start of feasibility studies of the system.
The joint project integrates the Milrem Robotics THeMIS Unmanned Ground Vehicle with the MBDA IMPACT (Integrated MMP Precision Attack Combat Turret) system fitted with two MMP 5th generation battlefield engagement missiles and a self-defence machine gun. «This combination of two of the most modern technologies in their field is a very good example how robotic warfare systems will bring disruption to the battlefield and make some traditional technologies obsolete», said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics. «Our unmanned land combat system under study together with MBDA will be very efficient in keeping our troops safe and significantly increasing the capability to fight main battle tanks as well as any other ground target», Väärsi added.
The land combat warfare system is intended to be remotely operated. Soldiers can deploy it while remaining at a safe distance and using a wireless or a tethered connection. The system will have a low heat and noise signature so it can stay unnoticed until completing its mission.
«Being delivered to the French Army since the end of 2017, the MMP system is now deployed by the French forces in theatre, where it replaces the Milan and Javelin missiles. With fully digitalized functions of observation, targeting, positioning and guidance, the MMP system is perfectly suited for integration on vehicles, including remotely operated ones», said Francis Bordachar, Military Advisor Land Products at MBDA.
MBDA has received a contract for the integration of its Brimstone high-precision strike missile onto the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Protector RG Mk1 remotely piloted aircraft developed and manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI).
Brimstone and Protector RG Mk1 will provide key new capabilities to the Royal Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) force, enabling them to engage high-speed moving and manoeuvring targets (including maritime fast attack craft for the first time). The Protector RG Mk1 can carry three lightweight Brimstones per weapon station, and so offers a much higher loadout than the Reaper platform it will replace.
Integration of Brimstone onto Protector RG Mk1 (which is the weaponised version of MQ-9B SkyGuardian) follows a series of successful firing trials of Brimstone from the Reaper/Predator B aircraft in the United States that demonstrated the advancement in performance that Brimstone offers. Brimstone integration will be completed in time for the entry to service of the aircraft with the RAF.
James Allibone, MBDA’s UK Sales Director, said: «Protector RG Mk1 is the third UK air platform to benefit from the unmatched capabilities of the Brimstone missile, providing UK Armed Forces with vital operational advantages and sovereign defence capabilities. Brimstone is unique in its ability to be carried by platforms in all domains, land, sea and air, providing a common weapon that delivers both operational and cost benefits. Commonality is a key part of all MBDA’s latest systems, and is a major contributor to the £1.7 billion in savings that the partnership approach between the UK MoD and MBDA has generated».
Earlier in 2018, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (UK MoD) announced a £400 million contract with MBDA for the Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP) of Brimstone missile, to build new missiles and extend this missile’s service life beyond 2030.
At the end of 2018, MBDA successfully demonstrated the use of the Mistral missile against fast boats such as FIACs (Fast Inshore Attack Crafts). A number of foreign delegations attended the demonstration firing that was performed from a SIMBAD-RC automated naval turret firing from the land against a fast moving remotely-controlled semi-rigid boat more than 3 kilometres/1.86 miles off the coast. The scenario was intended to be representative of the self-protection of a vessel against an asymmetric threat (commando or terrorist attack).
In its latest version currently in service with the French armed forces, the Mistral is an air defence missile equipped with an imaging infrared seeker with advanced image processing capabilities that allow it to engage low thermal signature targets from a long distance (such targets include Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), missiles and fast boats), whilst at the same time offering excellent resistance to countermeasures.
The SIMBAD-RC is a remotely-controlled very short range naval air defence system that provides highly efficient capacities against a wide range of threats, from combat aircraft through anti-ship missiles to small-sized threats such as UAVs.
The system is easy to install and thus provides small units or support vessels with a true self-defence capacity, or can even ensure reinforced defence for the other types of surface vessels. Each turret supports two ready-to-fire Mistral missiles. The turret is remotely-operated, allowing the operator to remain under cover in the vessel’s operation centre, and thus ensures longer operational availability in case of a combat alert.
«MBDA is constantly striving to help armed forces make optimum use of their investments in our products», said MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier. «The demonstration of the SIMBAD-RC Mistral combination against surface targets reflects our policy of giving our systems additional capacities to supplement those they were originally designed to provide».
At the end of 2018, MBDA successfully demonstrated the use of the Mistral missile against fast boats such as FIACs (Fast Inshore Attack Crafts)
EU Defence ministers have endorsed on 19 November the EU BLOS (Beyond Line Of Sight) project amongst a list of 17 defence projects aiming at being implemented in the frame of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). Proposed by France and supported by Belgium and Cyprus, the EU BLOS project is the first missile system project to benefit from this new cooperation framework.
Promoting a differentiating operational capability for military operations, this project will contribute to a consistent and autonomous European approach in the land combat domain whilst enhancing the qualitative contribution of European nations to the achievement of NATO’s level of ambition. The land combat domain has been recognized since June 2018 as one of the 11 European capability priorities.
The EU BLOS project aims at developing a family of BLOS missiles with back image and man in the loop capabilities. Based on the MMP missile system, this family of products will be fully mastered by European industry, which provides full autonomy of use, security of supply and future evolutions, to the benefit of the 25 PESCO member nations. One of the first priorities of this project will focus on defining a European doctrine of use and its associated concepts of operation. This project will pave the way for the creation of a European users club which will develop the growth potential of the MMP missile system in terms of missile evolutions as well as in terms of integration to a wide range of land and air platforms.
The EU BLOS project will also benefit from the CAMO (CApacité MOtorisée) bilateral strategic partnership between France and Belgium, helping build operational and capability synergies across the armies of both nations.
MBDA’s Marte ER anti-ship missile has completed its first firing, successfully passing a major phase in its development.
The firing trial was carried out on 9 November in an Italian test range. The Marte ER missile flew for more than 100 km/62 miles/54 NM on a planned trajectory that included several waypoints and sea skimming flight, successfully testing all flying phases.
Pasquale Di Bartolomeo, Executive Group Director Sales & Business Development and Managing Director MBDA Italia, commented: «This test is a further confirmation of the robustness of the ER version of the Marte family of multi-platform anti-ship missiles that can be launched by ships, helicopters, coastal batteries and fast jets. The Marte family has a strong and successful history both at domestic and international levels: most recently with Marte ER being ordered earlier in 2018 by the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) for their new NH90 helicopters. Marte is a single product family that can cover several missions, offering our customers a high level of operational flexibility in the area of maritime superiority, a domain where MBDA in Italy has been able throughout its long history not only to maintain but also to grow as well as further develop competencies and know-how».
The Marte ER programme is progressing at full speed in order to meet customers’ requirements. Having completed the 18 months System Definition Phase, the full integration of Marte ER on the Eurofighter Typhoon platform is proceeding at pace in order to implement an anti-ship capability onto the fighter.
The French Defence Procurement Agency DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) has awarded MBDA the contract for the MICA NG (Missile d’Interception et de Combat Aérien Nouvelle Génération) programme to develop the next generation of the MICA missile. With deliveries scheduled to begin in 2026, MICA NG will be available to arm the current and future versions of the Rafale combat aircraft.
MICA NG is intended as the replacement for the MICA missiles currently in operational service with the French armed forces and exported to 14 countries worldwide. The NG programme includes an extensive redesign of the current MICA family while keeping the same aerodynamics, mass and centre of gravity. This is done to minimise the amount of adaptation required to operate the new system with existing platforms and launchers. The unique concept that has ensured the ongoing success of MICA for two decades remains: the option of two different seekers (infrared and radio frequency) and two launch modes (rail and ejection) in a single missile casing.
The technological step changes introduced with this change of generation will provide the capability to counter future threats. This includes targets with reduced infrared and electromagnetic signatures, atypical targets (UAVs and small aircraft), as well as the threats normally countered by air-to-air missiles (combat aircraft and helicopters).
More specifically, the infrared seeker will use a matrix sensor providing greater sensitivity. Meanwhile the radio frequency seeker will use an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Antenna), enabling smart detection strategies. The reduced volume of electronic components within MICA NG will allow it to carry a larger quantity of propellant, thereby significantly extending the range of the missile. Utilising a new double-pulse rocket motor will also provide additional energy to the missile at the end of its flight to improve manoeuvrability and the ability to intercept targets at long range. Lastly, the addition of internal sensors will allow the monitoring of the status of the weapon throughout its life (including during storage and transport), contributing to significantly reduced maintenance requirements and cost of ownership.
MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier said at the programme launch: «We are proud of the work completed with the DGA to achieve maximum technical and financial optimisation. The fact that we have reached this stage is thanks to the vision that we were able to share with our French customer to address its operational challenges, as well as our own long-term commercial challenges. The upgrading of the MICA family will enable us to support the armed forces throughout the remaining operational life of the Rafale».
About the MICA missile
MICA entered service in 1997, and was designed to replace the short-term MAGIC 2 missile and the medium-range Super 530 D missile with a single weapon system equipped with two interchangeable seekers: one being radio frequency and the other infrared. Approximately 5,000 MICA missiles in various versions have been ordered by 22 armed forces around the world.