On 14 April, MBDA and Nexter participated in the first lock-on firing of an MMP medium-range missile from a Jaguar armoured reconnaissance and combat vehicle (EBRC). The French defence procurement agency (DGA) carried out the firing at their Land Techniques Test Centre as part of the JAGUAR qualification. Launched from the retractable pod on the Jaguar’s turret in two-missile configuration, the MMP successfully hit its target.
The integration of MMP onto JAGUAR is being carried out in stages during qualification. This firing is the first stage, successfully demonstrating hitting a fixed target. The system will offer the capability to destroy fixed or mobile hardened land targets, including up to the latest generation of tanks. Targeting will be direct or beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS). It will also be precise and with minimal collateral damage, qualities that characterise the MMP.
MMP’s capabilities – integrated into the Jaguar’s turret by Nexter, alongside the remote controlled weapon station developed by Arquus, the Scorpion common vetronics solution developed by Thales and the 40mm cannon developed by CTAI – gives the Jaguar a key role in collaborative combat.
During this demonstration, the Optrolead PASEO battlefield surveillance sight interfaced with the missile system, offering real-time optronic acquisition by day and by night. This gives the Jaguar excellent long-range observation and identification capabilities.
Frédéric Michaud, Head of Battlefield Sector for Sales & Business Development at MBDA, said: «This firing marks an important first step of the work conducted with Nexter to develop the Jaguar turret and integrate the MMP into a weapon system built on the latest technological solutions. This two-missile turret configuration considerably expands the vehicle’s firepower».
David Marquette, Jaguar project manager at Nexter, hailed the exceptional work of the programme team on this critically important system integration project: «This marks a major milestone, demonstrating the technical skills of our teams in designing and developing an operational capability unlike any other in the world».
MBDA has carried out the first demonstration of the operational capabilities of LYNKEUS Dismounted, comprising the MMP system in «infantry» configuration and a Novadem NX70 drone linked via radio to its weapon terminal.
Carried out with the support of the French Army and of the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French Procurement Agency) at the Canjuers military camp in the south of France, this firing was representative of a ‘Beyond Line Of Sight’ (BLOS) engagement.
During this demonstration, the drone enabled the detection and identification of a tank located outside the MMP operator’s field of vision. The transfer of the coordinates for the target to the MMP firing station illustrated the possibility of engaging a target not directly seen by the operator. The missile was «locked-on» to the target during its flight by the MMP operator after detecting the tank via the video stream from the MMP seeker, which was continuously transmitted to the firing station via fibre optics. The demonstration successfully concluded with a direct hit on the target.
This demonstration confirms the capabilities offered by LYNKEUS for the quality and control of the information chain going from the drone to the firing station. It also proves the precision of the extraction of the coordinates for the target.
Philippe Gouyon, Military Advisor at MBDA, said: «This firing also concludes a year-long tactical evaluation conducted with the Army and Novadem exploring all the capabilities of the system and thus, allows MBDA to propose an MMP/drone combination that meets the needs of remote observation and target designation of contact units. These experiments notably included real-time engagement simulations in virtual reality but also combining, in the field, real equipment (drones, weapon terminal) and MMP simulators implemented by Land Forces units. We are very satisfied with the results of this work, which made it possible to understand the forces’ needs to finalize the system carrying the BLOS capability for dismounted combat».
The collaborative engagement capacity allowing firing ‘beyond line of sight’ is a breakthrough operational concept, supported at European level by the participants in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) BLOS project.
French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly has announced that MBDA is to develop the Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile (MAST-F) program as the main French Army air to ground armament for the Tiger combat helicopter.
MBDA was selected after proposing to the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French Procurement Agency) its MHT/MLP concept (Missile Haut de Trame/Missile Longue Portée – high tier missile/long-range mobile missile) that builds on the technologies of the mid-range Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP), the first 5th generation land combat missile to enter service around the world. Its modular architecture enables easy integration of the MHT/MLP onto a variety of land or air combat platforms in addition to the Tiger.
The MHT/MLP is characterised by its high operational effectiveness. Weighing 20% less than other missiles in its category provides a weight saving of nearly 100 kg/220 lbs. for the Tiger helicopter, which can carry up to eight missiles in combat configuration. Exploiting this weight saving increases the Tiger’s fuel capacity and so its combat endurance, with a significant gain in «Playtime».
The MHT/MLP has a range of over 8 km/5 miles, even when fired from a stationary platform at low altitude. Its multi-effect warhead can handle a wide variety of targets, from modern battle tanks to hardened combat infrastructure. The MHT/MLP performs day or night, including in Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) mode, with a two-way data link that sends images from the missile’s high-resolution visible and infrared optronic seeker back to the operator. The crew of the Tiger can use this imagery to choose the missile’s point of impact or to select a new target in flight, making the weapon suitable for fluid battlefield situations.
Commenting on the launch of the programme, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: «The MHT/MLP missile combines new technologies, developed with the support of the DGA, with the tried and tested components of the MMP, making it an effector at the forefront of today’s tactical land combat missiles. It offers a flexibility of use unmatched in today’s armed forces, while minimising development risks. And with its all-European design authority, the MHT/MLP programme will fully contribute to the strategic autonomy objectives set by France and the European Union».
«With nearly 350 jobs per year over the next five years and, ultimately, around 250 annual jobs in France during the first 10 years of its production, the development and production of this new missile will help maintain of the national industrial and technological base, and in particular in the Centre region», he added.
MBDA is joining with 13 partners and subcontractors from 5 countries to develop a new capability based on the MMP missile system (Missile Moyenne Portée, Medium-Range Missile) that will be unique for mounted and dismounted forces.
LynkEUs, an MBDA coordinated project, has been selected by the European Commission as part of the new European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), following consultation with Member States.
LynkEUs is the first technological and industrial contribution to the objectives of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) capability project. The BLOS capability project had been approved in November 2018 by the EU Defence Ministers.
The LynkEUs project is managed in close partnership with the French, Belgian and Cypriot armed forces. The project seeks to define an initial operational concept for a European BLOS capability. It will also provide an opportunity to identify and test emerging solutions of potential value for future upgrades to the capability, and will be validated by a test campaign.
The concepts and tests completed for the PESCO BLOS project will contribute to the development of a family of man-on-the loop BLOS missile systems with back image, based on the MMP medium range missile, and under full control of Europe’s defence industry.
Eric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «LynkEUs is the first cooperative project in the missile systems field leveraging on the new EU defence instruments, and the first EU defence R&D project to be coordinated by MBDA. It demonstrates our eagerness to cooperate to an ever-greater extent in Europe and to expand our circle of industrial and technological partnerships, particularly with innovative SMEs and European research centres. It also demonstrates our commitment to serve European strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty ambitions».
MBDA and its 10 partners – from Belgium: The Royal Military Academy, John Cockerill Defense, FN Herstal, Thales Belgium, and Xenics; from Cyprus: Aditess, Cyprus Institute, and SignalGenerix; from France: Novadem and Safran; along with the 3 subcontractors: MILREM (from Estonia), DELAIR (from France), and Carmenta (from Sweden) – are now entering the negotiation phase of the grant agreement with the Commission.
This first success at the European level paves the way for further collaborative projects, that will consolidate a European BLOS capability by developing associated functions such as training systems and cooperative engagement. These new projects could be eligible for the future European Defence Fund as early as 2021.
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.
The French Defence Procurement Agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement) successfully carried out the first firing of MMP (Missile de Moyenne Portée or Medium Range Missile), the successor to the Milan weapon system. Carried out at the DGA Techniques Terrestres site in Bourges (central France), the firing test served to confirm MMP’s excellent accuracy in locking onto a target at a distance of more than 4,000 m and that was hidden from view at launch. This success is the result of the coordinated efforts of both state (DGA and French Army) and industrial (MBDA France) participants.
MMP is a high technology, new generation missile forming one of the French MoD’s (Ministry of Defence) new programmes within the Military Planning Act 2014-2019 aimed at modernising the French Army.
This versatile missile, conceived by MBDA France, is currently in its development phase following the notification of a development contract by the DGA on 3rd December 2013. It will enable the armed forces to neutralise, with a high level of precision, the many different types of target that might be confronted during operations, ensuring that collateral damage is kept to a minimum and at the same time maximizing the safety of the operator. The delivery date of the system to the French Army is scheduled for 2017. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, in total the army has ordered 2,850 missiles and 400 firing posts from MBDA, with the missile not only intended to arm infantry personnel but also intended to be vehicle-launched from platforms such as the army’s upcoming Jaguar 6×6 reconnaissance vehicle.
Further test firings have already been programmed by the DGA Techniques Terrestres to take place during the first quarter of 2015.
MMP (Missile de Moyenne Portée)
MBDA is currently developing MMP (Missile Moyenne Portée), the medium range, ground combat as a successor to MILAN (the eponymous anti-tank system supplied to over 40 armies around the world). MMP is a fifth generation weapon system responding to the requirements outlined within the French Army’s FELIN and SCORPION programmes. FELIN is a programme aimed at developing the necessary equipment for the French infantryman of the future while SCORPION will advance the integration and coordination of the range of equipment deployed by future French ground forces, calling for wide-ranging digitisation and platform interoperability. In this respect, MMP is also relevant to other ground forces around the world that are in the process of preparing for the requirements of the battlefield well into the future.
MMP’s entirely new concept takes into consideration the experience gained from recent conflicts, where the need to master the delivery of military effects without collateral damage has been shown to be a major operational requirement.
MMP is man portable (the missile in its tube weighs only 15 kg), easy to set up and operate by a two-man team. It is the ideal combat support weapon for the modern soldier who might be called upon to fight either out in the open battlefield or from confined spaces within a complex urban environment. The system can be used either in conjunction with a lightweight, portable digital firing post (weighing only 11 kg, battery included) or alternatively, mounted on a typical armoured vehicle.
Its shaped tandem warhead (MMP features a unique selectable charge depending on the intended target) provides lethality at ranges of up to 4 km against a wide range of stationary or moving ground targets from bunkers and machine gun posts to tanks equipped with the latest Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA).
Equipped with a non-cooled, dual-mode visible/infrared seeker, MMP is able to engage both hot and cold targets. To ensure operator survivability, MMP’s «fire-and-forget» capability allows the operator to fire and disengage immediately without having to wait for the missile to strike its intended target. However, in a complex environment where collateral damage is a concern, MMP’s optic fibre link enables MITL (Man-In-The-Loop) operation.
Combined with a navigation function integrated within the missile, the optical link via the missile allows for a full NLOS (Non Line Of Sight) operation as well, a function further enhanced within a modern info-centric environment. These are the features that combine to create a true 5th generation combat support weapon.
MMP represents the first missile within a family of ground and air-platform launched surface combat missiles. These missiles will share not only the same airframe diameter but also significant elements of technology in line with MBDA’s GMA (General Missile Architecture) strategy, a strategy aimed at reducing both cost and development risk.
Lightweight weapon system, easily man-portable
High level of day and night, all-weather reconnaissance and identification capability
Lethality against a wide target set: hot and cold targets, including latest MBTs (Main Battle Tanks)
Collateral damage risk minimization
Dual-band seeker (uncooled IR and TV channel)
MEMS IMU (MicroElectroMechanical Systems Inertial Measurement Unit) for inertial navigation
Two-stage main propulsion system (soft launch)
Multipurpose tandem warhead capable of defeating 1,000 mm of RHA (Rolled Homogeneous Armour), 2,000 mm of concrete
MMP interactive firing post
Latest generation IR band 2 and day camera
Laser range finder
GPS and magnetic compass
Autonomous operation and NCW (Network-Centric Waveform) compatible
Modular to facilitate integration on combat vehicles
MMP training simulators
Gunnery training simulator for indoor training
Combat firing simulator for technical firing instruction and tactical training in the field
Range: 4,000 m
Real time data-link
Three operating modes:
Man-In-The-Loop with fibre-optic data-link;
Lock-On-After-Launch (NLOS and using third party target coordinates).
Weight (incl. tube): 15 kg
Length: 1.3 m in tactical canister
Diameter: 140 mm
Range: 4,000 m
Real time data-link (fibre-optic)
Interactive firing post:
Weight (incl. tripod and battery): 11 kg;
Autonomous with battery or can be connected to external power sources.
The latest (fifth) generation land combat missile system designed for dismounted infantry as well as for integration on combat vehicles. Featuring both fire-and-forget and man-in-the-loop operation, network-enabled MMP also receives third party target coordinates for indirect firing scenarios. MMP’s design includes the growth potential necessary for a future family of missiles for modern land combat.