MBDA – The Power House of Missile Systems

anil chopra, air power asia, MBDA, Missile Systems

With the induction Rafale and the Meteor and SCALP missiles, more Indians have heard the name MBDA. India has had an old association with MBDA and its earlier Avatars and also the joint venture partners. MBDA is a European developer and manufacturer of missiles. The company name emerged from the initials of the names of the companies that came together to form it: Matra; BAe Dynamics and Alenia. It was formed as a joint venture by a merger of the guided missile divisions of EADS (now Airbus), Finmeccanica (now Leonardo), and BAe Systems in December 2001. Interestingly, all these three are among the top 20 defence companies of the world. The participating ratios are Airbus (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%) and Leonardo (25%). The Company is a multi-national group that today has 11,500 employees working together across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. It has offices in USA and joint ventures across the globe, including in India In 2019, MBDA recorded orders for €3.6 billion, revenue of €3.7 billion and an order book of € 17.5 billion. MBDA works with over 90 armed forces worldwide. MBDA is the only European group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems to meet the whole range of current and future needs of the three armed forces. It is perhaps the only integrated defence company to provide missiles and missile systems for each branch of the armed forces (air, sea, land).

BAe Systems, Airbus and Leonardo. Image Source: httpswww.sipri.org

MBDA’s Initial History

            The consolidation of Europe’s missile companies began in 1996, when parts of Matra Defence and BAe Dynamics merged their missile activities to form Matra BAe Dynamics (MBD). Matra BAe Dynamics represented half of Matra Hautes Technologies’ missile business; the other half was Matra Missiles, which became Aérospatiale-Matra Missiles (AMM). Then, Matra group merged with Aérospatiale in 1999. In 2000, Aérospatiale-Matra became part of EADS (now Airbus). In 1998, GEC-Marconi Radar and Defence Systems and Alenia Difesa combined their missile and radar activities to form Alenia Marconi Systems (AMS). In 1999 GEC-Marconi (renamed Marconi Electronic Systems) was sold to British Aerospace and became part of the merged company, BAE Systems. In December 2001, MBD (including AMM) and the Missile and Missile Systems activities of AMS merged, creating MBDA. In June 2005, LFK, a unit of Airbus Defence and Security Systems, agreed to be merged into MBDA. On 1 March 2006, LFK became MBDA Germany. ON 9 May 2012, the LFK-Lenkflugkörpersysteme GmbH became MBDA Deutschland GmbH. Since February 2002, MBDA has owned 40% of Inmize Sistemas S.L., a Spanish company which was formed to integrate the experience and technology of the major Spanish defence companies in the guided weapons sector. As AMS had R&D assets located in California, MBDA also managed to acquire development and production facilities in the United States, choosing to operate in the country as a wholly owned subsidiary, called MBDA Inc. In December 2011, MBDA Inc acquired the Viper Strike activity of Northrop Grumman in Huntsville, Alabama. MBDA corporate and technical centers are located in France, Germany, Italy, UK, United States, and in India. Coimbatore based L&T MBDA Missile Systems is a joint venture between Larsen & Toubro and MBD).

Image Source: defense-update.com

MBDA’s Air Launched Missiles

MBDA’s air-to-air and air-to-surface missile systems equip the latest generation of aircraft in service with many of the world’s air forces. These systems include both short range and beyond visual range fire-and-forget weapons designed to ensure the aircraft’s safety as it strives to secure and protect the airspace. To carry out the surface attack mission, MBDA missile systems feature exceptional precision at long, stand-off range.

MBDA ASRAAM. Image source: http://www.military-today.com/

Air To Air Missiles

  • The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM), also known by its United States identifier AIM-132, is an imaging infrared homing (“heat seeking”) air-to-air missile, produced by MBDA, that is designed to fill the within visual range combat mission. ASRAAM is designed to outrange and outrun any other IR missile in service, allowing the pilot to fire and then turn away long before the opposing aircraft can close for a shot. It flies at well over Mach 3 to ranges as great as 50 kilometres. It retains a 50 g manoeuvrability provided by body lift technology coupled with tail control. The project started as a British-German collaboration in the 1980s. It was part of a wider agreement in which the US would develop the AIM-120 AMRAAM for medium-range use, while the ASRAAM would replace the Sidewinder with a design that would cover the great range disparity between Sidewinder and AMRAAM. The missile was introduced into RAF service in 1998. It has since been selected to replace Sidewinder in the Royal Australian Air Force and is being considered by the Indian Air Force.
MBDA Meteor Missile. Image Source: plane-encyclopedia.com
  • Meteor is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) developed by MBDA. Meteor offers a multi-shot capability against long range manoeuvring targets, jets, UAVs and cruise missiles in a heavy electronic countermeasures (ECM) environment with a range in excess of 150 kilometres, and no-escape zone of 60 km.  A solid-fuelled ramjet motor allows the missile to cruise at a speed of over Mach 4 and provides the missile with thrust and mid-way acceleration to target intercept. A two-way data link enables the launch aircraft to provide mid-course target updates or retargeting if required, including data from off-board third parties. The data link is capable of transmitting missile information such as functional and kinematic status, information about multiple targets, and notification of target acquisition by the seeker. Meteor is in service with the operators of Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35, Dassault Rafale, and the JAS 39 Gripen. According to MBDA, Meteor has three to six times the kinetic performance of current air-air missiles of its type.
MBDA MICA Next Generation. Image Source: http://www.aircosmosinternational.com
  • The MBDA MICA (Missile d’interception, de combat et d’autodéfense, “interception, combat and self-defence missile”) is an anti-air multi-target, all weather, fire-and-forget short and medium-range missile system. It is intended for use both by air platforms as individual missiles as well as ground units and ships, which can be equipped with the rapid fire MICA Vertical Launch System. It is fitted with a thrust vector control (TVC) system. It was developed from 1982 onward by Matra. The first trials occurred in 1991, and the missile was commissioned in 1996 to equip the Rafale and Mirage 2000. It is a replacement for both the Super 530 in the interception role and the Magic II in the dogfighting role. On 11 June 2007, a MICA launched from a Rafale successfully demonstrated its over-the-shoulder capability by destroying a target behind the launch aircraft. The target was designated by another aircraft and coordinates were transmitted by Link 16. The missile is capable of lock-on after launch (LOAL) which means it is capable of engaging targets outside its seeker’s at-launch acquisition range. Mounted on the Rafale, the MICA IR can provide IR imagery to the central data processing system, thus acting as an extra sensor. IAF is known to have 200 MICA-IR and 1000 MICA-RF missiles are integrated on upgraded Mirage-2000 and Rafale aircraft. An upgraded MICA NG missile, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2026 is under development.

Air to Surface Missiles

  • The Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (ASMP)medium-range air to surface missile) is a French nuclear air-launched cruise missile. In French nuclear doctrine it is called a “pre-strategic” weapon, the last-resort “warning shot” prior to a full-scale employment of strategic nuclear weapons. The missile’s construction was contracted to Aérospatiale’s Tactical Missile Division, now part of MBDA. ASMP entered service in May 1986, replacing the earlier free-fall AN-22 bomb on France’s Dassault Mirage IV aircraft and the AN-52 bomb on Dassault Super Étendard. About 84 weapons are stockpiled. Carrier aircraft are the Dassault Mirage 2000N, Rafale and Super Étendard. The Mirage IVP carried the ASMP until retired in 1996. In 1991, 90 missiles and 80 warheads were reported to have been produced. By 2001, 60 were operational.
ASMPA missile on the Centre Pylon. Image Source: http://globalmilitaryreview.blogspot.com/
  • The ASMPA An advanced version known as Air-Sol Moyenne Portée-Amélioré ASMP-A (improved ASMP) has a range of about 500 kilometres at a speed of up to Mach 3 with the new TNA (Tête Nucléaire Aéroportée) 300kt thermonuclear warhead. It entered service in October 2009 with the Mirage 2000NK3 of squadron EC 3/4 at Istres and on July 2010 with the Rafales of squadron EC 1/91 at Saint Dizier. 54 ASMP-A have been delivered to French forces. ASMP and ASMP-A is 5.38 m long and weighs 860 kg. It is a supersonic standoff missile powered by a liquid fuel ramjet. It flies at Mach 2 to Mach 3, with a range between 80 km and 300 km (ASMP)/ 500 km (ASMP-A) depending on flight profile. Warhead was a single variable-yield 100 to 300 kiloton TN 81 for ASMP, and a single variable-yield 100 to 300 kiloton TNA (Airborne nuclear warhead) for ASMP-A.
Brimstone Missile. Image Source: http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk
  • Brimstone is an air-launched ground attack missile developed by MBDA for Britain’s Royal Air Force. It was originally intended for “fire-and-forget” use against mass formations of enemy armour, using a millimetric wave (mmW) active radar homing seeker to ensure accuracy even against moving targets. Experience in Afghanistan led to the addition of laser guidance in the dual-mode Brimstone missile, allowing a “spotter” to pick out specific and the highest priority targets, particularly useful to minimise collateral damage when friendly forces or civilians were in the area. The tandem shaped charge warhead is much more effective against modern tanks, while the small blast area minimises collateral damage. Three Brimstones are carried on a launcher that occupies a single weapon station, allowing a single aircraft to carry many missiles. Brimstone entered service with RAF Tornado aircraft in 2005, and the dual-mode variant in 2008. The latter has been extensively used in Afghanistan and Libya. An improved Brimstone 2 was expected to enter service. MBDA is working on the targeting of swarms of small boats under the name Sea Spear. The RAF intend to fit Brimstone to their Eurofighter Typhoons. MBDA is studying the use of Brimstone on ships, attack helicopters, UAVs, and from surface launchers. The United States, France and Indonesia have expressed interest in buying Brimstone for their aircraft, but Saudi Arabia is the only export customer as of now. The cost per missile has been quoted as $263,000 each in 2015. The German Air Force announced procurement of Brimstone 2 dual mode missiles for their fleet of Eurofighter aircraft. MBDA was reportedly offering the ASRAAM and Brimstone air-to-surface missile for a modified version of the Hawk built by HAL.
MBDA SPEAR 3. Image Source: MBDA
  • The MBDA Select Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) Capability 3 is a future British stand-off air-to-ground and possibly anti-ship missile, with a range of around 100 km. The 2 m (6.6 ft) weapon will fly at high-subsonic speed using a turbojet and wing kit, and will feature a multimode seeker with INS/GPS guidance and data link. The missile will use the Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-150 turbojet as on the JSOW-ER. MBDA is also proposing a SPEAR Electronic Warfare version (SPEAR EW), and a SEAD attack version. Networked swarm capability for SPEAR missiles is in development.
Storm Shadow/SCALP. Image Source: Wikipedia
  • Storm Shadow/SCALP is a low-observable air-launched cruise missile, developed since 1994 by Matra and British Aerospace, and now manufactured by MBDA. Storm Shadow is the British name for the weapon; in French service it is called SCALP EG (Système de Croisière Autonome à Longue Portée – Emploi Général, meaning General Purpose Long Range Cruise Missile). The missile is based on the earlier MBDA Apache anti-runway missile, and differs in that it carries a warhead rather than sub munitions. The missile has a range of approximately 560 km, is powered by a turbojet at Mach 0.8 and can be carried by Saab Gripen, Dassault Mirage 2000 and Dassault Rafale aircraft. It is a fire and forget missile, programmed before launch. Once launched, the missile cannot be controlled or commanded to self-destroy and its target information cannot be changed. Mission planners program the missile with the target air defences and target. The missile follows a path semi-autonomously, on a low flight path guided by GPS and terrain mapping to the target area. Close to the target, the missile climbs and then bunts into a dive. The 1300 Kg (450 Kg warhead), 5.1 metre long, missile flies at 3-40 metres.  
  • Taurus KEPD 350 is a Swedish-German air-launched cruise missile, manufactured by Taurus Systems and used by Germany, Spain, and South Korea. Taurus Systems GmbH is a partnership between MBDA Deutschland GmbH (formerly LFK) and Saab Bofors Dynamics. This 1,400 Kg weapon is 5m long and has a warhead of 481 Kg.

Air-to-Ground Weapons Systems

  • The BANG family is a new generation of multi-purpose insensitive bombs, which significantly extends the operational efficiency of air strikes, in particular when fitted with guidance kits (laser, INS/GPS, IR/INS/GPS). There are two different classes, (BANG 125 kg and BANG 250 kg) which are fully interchangeable with Mk 81 and Mk 82 bombs, ordered by the French Official Services. BANG has been in service since 2000 with the French Navy. MBDA is also developing BANG 1 000 kg which is fully interchangeable with Mk84 bombs. The BANG family is able to defeat a wide variety of targets from soft and semi hardened to hardened targets. This is due to optimised calibrated fragmentation and blast, plus a high level penetration capability.
MBDA’s SmartGlider. Image Source: http://www.portail-aviation.com/
  • MBDA’s new SmartGlider family of guided weapons, are planned to become available for fast jets no later than 2025. They will have folding wings and a range of over 100 km. This new generation of air-to-ground weapons is designed to counter new networked short- and medium-range surface-to-air threats, as well as moving/relocatable targets or hardened fixed targets. The compact family member, SmartGlider Light, is 2 meters long and weighs 120 kg. 12 to 18 SmartGlider Lights can be carried on an aircraft because of a Hexa-bomb Smart Launcher (HSL) capable of managing reactive strikes without affecting the pilot’s workload. As such, the SmartGlider Light will allow first-day-entry by saturating and destroying enemy air defences. For general purpose missions, the SmartGlider Light can be engaged against a wide spectrum of targets, from hardened and defended fixed targets such as hangars, to relocatable targets that can only be destroyed from a standoff distance with significant lethal effects. MBDA is also preparing a 1,300 kg SmartGlider Heavy able to carry a multipurpose warhead of more than 1,000 kg to deal with large and hardened infrastructure.
Six SmartGliders can be carried by each ‘smart rack’, enabling the smart, networked and autonomous weapons to carry out swarm-like attacks. Illustration: MBDA
  • The new GBU-44/E Viper-E weapon is a 42 lb. air-launched guided munitions capable of stand-off precision attack. Viper-E is a low-risk variant of the combat proven Viper Strike weapon that provides a turn-key precision weapon solution for fixed wing, helicopter and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms. Currently in use on US Marine Corps aircraft, the Viper-E weapon glides to the target, using GPS-aided navigation and a semi-active laser seeker to attack land and sea targets with combat-proven pinpoint accuracy. The new Viper-E is optimized for attack profiles that require either a steep or shallow final attack angle. This flexibility allows low-collateral damage effects in both mountainous terrain and urban canyons where strict rules of engagement are in force. Its relatively small warhead size and laser accuracy provide for low collateral damage in cluttered urban environments. Viper-E’s new fast attack mode has proven successful against very high speed targets.

Self-Protection Systems

  • SAPHIR-400 is an expendable chaff / flare dispensing system developed for the A400M military transport aircraft. It features a very large decoy capacity and is fully integrated within the A400M Defensive Aids Sub System (DASS). Its high rate of fire, its fast reaction time and its advanced software that is fully programmable by the user, SAPHIR-400 provides the highest levels of protection, reliability and safety. It comes with a comprehensive Pre-Flight Mission Support Equipment (PFMSE) allowing Library Generation and Verification.
  • SAPHIR-M / ELIPS-NH is the chaff and flare dispenser for version Helicopters. It is currently on the NH-90 and Tiger helicopters. ELIPS-NH is progressively replacing form, fit and function SAPHIR-M on the NH-90 in the form of a mid-life update.
SPECTRA “Self-Protection Equipment Countering Threats to Rafale Aircraft”. Image Source: http://www.aviatorsbuzz.com
  • SPECTRA “Self-Protection Equipment Countering Threats to Rafale Aircraft” was jointly developed by Thales Group and MBDA for the Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft, now also in service with Indian Air Force (IAF). The integrated electronic warfare suite provides long-range detection, identification and accurate localisation of infrared homing, radio frequency and laser threats. The system incorporates radar warning receiver, laser warning and Missile Approach Warning for threat detection plus a phased array radar jammer and a decoy dispenser for threat countering. It also includes a dedicated management unit for data fusion and reaction decision. DDM-NG is a new generation missile warning system which is also part of the Spectra. It covers most of the sphere around the aircraft. In particular it provides the capability to detect Manpad missiles. DDM-NG is a passive, imaging infrared Missile Warning System using the latest advances in sensor technology and processing algorithms. The DDM-NG system’s long detection range, spherical field of view and advanced software provides the highest level of performance.
  • SPIRALE is a decoying system is totally integrated internal ICMS for Mirage. It leaves the hard points free and preserves the fighter aircraft’s manoeuvrability and mission range. Additional capacity of decoys can be obtained with the internal addition of the ECLAIR-M dispenser. A missile detection function can be added by using the DDM missile detector. ECLAIR-M increases the basic IR flare capacity of SPIRALE by 4 times.
SPIRALE decoying system. Image Source: MBDA
  • ELIPS is a decoy dispenser delivering countermeasures against radar and missile threats by optimised ejection of chaff and/or flares. Adaptable to all types of aircraft in different configurations, ELIPS is already in service on Cougar, Panther, Sokol, Caracal, Embraer 145, C160, C130, Mirage 5.

Battlefield Engagement

For the Ground soldier, the MBDA product range includes man portable and air-launched anti-armour weapon systems to support the modern soldier whether he is called to operate in an open terrain or, more often nowadays, in an urban terrain. To aid the movement of both soldiers and civilians in a conflict zone, MBDA also provides highly advanced mine detection and clearance systems. DEDALE is an off-the-shelf decoying system designed to be compatible with and to complement other mine clearing systems such as rollers, ploughs and flails. Easily installed on mine clearing vehicles, DEDALE activates all types of magnetic mines at a safe forward distance by transmitting a programmable decoy magnetic signature. MMP is the latest (fifth) generation land combat missile system designed for dismounted infantry as well as for integration on combat vehicles. The weapons effectiveness has also been proven on small naval craft as well. Featuring both fire-and-forget and man-in-the-loop operation, network-enabled MMP also receives third party target designation for indirect firing scenarios. MMP has a multi-purpose warhead with the selectable choice of anti-armour of anti-infrastructure modes. The Enforcer shoulder launched weapon system provides low-collateral precision effects capabilities against the threat from lightly armoured static and moving targets, targets behind cover, and against targets at long range also in urban environments. MULTISORB is extremely versatile and suitable camouflage Kit for a wide range of vehicles ranging from 4x4s to battle tanks. The kit does not impinge on the ERA properties of modern battle armour. It will also provide the same stealth properties for battlefield installations such as shelters, machine gun posts, sniper hideouts as well as FIACs (Fast Inshore Attack Craft) used by special forces carrying out commando style shore attacks or secret landings.

MULTISORB Camouflage Kit. Image Source: MBDA

          Eryx is a direct fire support system for Infantry platoons and Special Forces and is especially well adapted to the modern battlefield. Its missile is fitted with a highly efficient tandem warhead, enables it to destroy modern Main Battle Tanks (MBT) as well as a wide range of ground targets such as ultra-mobile light armoured vehicles and strengthened fixed positions (bunkers, entrenchments, machine gun nests, etc.). PARS 3 LR is a high precision fire-and-forget weapon system for the engagement of mobile and stationary targets equipped with the latest generation of armour protection as well as buildings, bunkers and other high-value targets. Milan ER is the latest development of the combat-proven Milan weapon system that has already been selected by over 40 customers around the world. India had acquired Infantry and vehicle-mounted weapon. Around 30,000 built under license by Bharat Dynamics. The Indian Army has also spent close to US$120 million on 4,100 new MILAN-2T ATGMs. Sesame is a system enabling at crew level the training and evaluation of short range missile systems that use manual target acquisition. The system is based on simulated virtual target scenarios linked to the real-life battlefield where the training manoeuvres are being carried out. MISTRAL ATAM is based on the MISTRAL missile with its fire-and-forget engagement mode, ease of operation and unrivalled kill probability. The system is based on two launchers, each bearing two missiles and can be connected to the helicopter’s combat system, when mounted on combat helicopters, or through simplified control equipment if installed on multi-purpose helicopters. VDM is a combat proven route clearance solution able to clear 150 km of route, in one day, with a maximum speed of 25 km/h. VDM is particularly suitable against mines and IEDs, for securing shuttle traffic (supply convoys,) or for opening up main routes during combat operations. This modular vehicles can operate within a combat engineer detachment as a Counter-IED system dedicated to the clearing of IED threats during route opening missions. The VDM is blast resistant and is easily and fast repairable during the mission.


Ground Based Air Defence

Long range ballistic missiles, stealth aircraft, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles and cruise missiles make up just part of the new and proliferating threat from the sky. Defence against this complex threat calls for networked surveillance and control systems as well as a layered architecture of short, medium and long range anti-air missiles. MBDA’s expertise in creating effective defensive “umbrellas” has positioned the Company as an industry leader. The Aspide 2000 missile is the powerful upgraded version of the Aspide multi-role missile for use in surface-to-air systems. It can engage attacking aircraft before they can release their stand-off weapons. The Aspide 2000 missile is equipped with an enhanced single stage rocket motor to increase the missile speed, lateral acceleration and effective range by as much as 40% compared to the Aspide baseline missile. It incorporates all modern electronic features to improve its guidance characteristics and effectiveness in heavy clutter and ECM environments. Spada 2000 is an enhanced all-weather air defence system for the protection of sensitive ground sites (air bases, ports, industrial plants, important buildings). It uses the Aspide 2000 semi-active missiles with an intercept range of 20 km. It is easily transportable by truck, train or by aircraft (C-130 fully compatible). Pakistan acquired 10 batteries Spada 2000 with 750 Aspide 2000 missiles in 2010-2013.

Pakistan’s Spada 2000. Image Source: Defence of Pakistan Facebook

MISTRAL ATLAS is a very short range air defence weapon system, firing the MISTRAL, latest generation fire-and-forget missile. The system is a twin launcher, which is vehicle mounted, but can be easily deployed on the ground or on top of a building for static missions. MISTRAL MANPADS is a very short range air defence weapon system, firing the MISTRAL, latest generation fire-and-forget missile. ASTER 30 SAMP/T is the mobile anti-aircraft defence weapon for theatre protection, to protect sensitive sites and deployed forces against missile threats (TBM, stand-off, cruise missiles, ARM) and aircraft, replacing all existing medium range ground-to-air systems. CAMM, the Common Anti-air Modular Missile, is the next generation air defence missile designed for land, sea and air environments. It incorporates advanced technologies and has an active RF seeker that provides true all-weather performance with good clutter rejection capabilities. CAMM-ER, the Common Anti-air Modular Missile Extended Range, is from the CAMM family of next generation air defence missiles. EMADS – Enhanced Modular Air Defence Solutions is a rapidly deployable point and area defence system to protect mobile and static high value assets. This all-weather system caters for difficult air targets including low level terrain following and high altitude threats. It uses CAMM family of air defence missiles, designed for land and sea environments.

CAMM-ER. Image Source: http://www.sdbrnews.com

MPCV is the latest generation of high firepower weapon system, for short range mobile ground-based air defence. The system comprises a motorized turret mounted on an armoured vehicle. The turret includes electro-optical sensors, a small calibre gun and 4 ready to fire missiles that can be operated from a firing console installed inside the vehicle. For the Command and Control (C2) of Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) systems, MBDA has developed the PCP (Platoon Command Post) offering optimised flexibility to the GBAD commander. This modular C2 system has been derived directly from the VL MICA system’s Tactical Operations Centre (TOC). LICORNE is a compact, lightweight C2 dedicated to VSHORAD systems mainly Mistral type, it completes MBDA Ground Based Air Defense systems (GBAD) Command and Control (C2) family. The ground-based Tactical Air Defence System (TLVS) is designed for protecting troops in out-of-area missions as well as assets. Equipped with a 360° radar system, a command post and hit-to-kill missiles, the system can combat all airborne targets, including cruise missiles and tactical-ballistic missiles. To provide optimum surveillance, command and control functions for Mistral missile Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) systems, MBDA has developed MCP and IMCP. These two systems are both equipped with radar (for target detection, identification and tracking) and a powerful computer. They both offer automatic threat evaluation and prioritisation, target assignment and permanent control of the launchers.

Vertical Launch MICA (VL MICA). Image Source: MBDA

Vertical Launch MICA (VL MICA) is a short range, ground based air defence system deploying the MICA fire-and-forget missile, currently the only missile in the world capable of being fitted with either a heat seeking homing head (VL MICA IR) or with an active radar (VL MICA RF). This ensures high kill probability, even in severe IRCM-ECM environments. MISTRAL ALBI is a lightweight, 360° turret, optimised for the protection of armoured or mechanised units as well as convoys. Mounted on armoured vehicles, MISTRAL ALBI has been designed to carry out all the usual air defence missions such as point defence, local area defence and, more particularly, defence of mobile units, using the very successful Mistral missile.

Maritime Systems

MBDA is closely associated with Exocet, one of the world’s famous anti-ship missile systems. It has number of other ship, fixed and rotary wing aircraft launched anti-ship missiles that MBDA supplies to any modern navy. MBDA is also associated with the most advanced of naval air defence systems, capable of defending against multiple attacks by aircraft and incoming anti-ship missiles.

MARTE ER. Image Source: MBDA

Albatros is an all-weather and highly ECM resistant naval system designed to counter aircraft, UAVs, helicopters at sea, as well as sea skimming and diving anti-ship missiles and PGMs. There are three versions of launcher (four, six and eight cells) to suit ship fitting requirements. The missiles on offer are the ASPIDE for point defence, and ASPIDE 2000 for local area or consort ship defence. MARTE MK2 Mobile Coastal Defence System (MDCS) includes the MARTE MK2/N Naval version, MARTE MK2/S Helicopter version, MARTE MK2/A Light Combat Aircraft version and the MARTE ER for the helicopters and fast jets aircrafts. The MARTE mobile coastal defence system has the capability to launch both MARTE MK2/N and / or MARTE ER missile. The main missions of the MARTE MK2 MCDS are Maritime Coastal Traffic Surveillance and Territorial Waters Interdiction of hostile ships.

Aster 30. Image Source: http://www.navyrecognition.com

The Aster missile family comprises Aster 15 for short to medium range and Aster 30 for short to long range. There is extensive commonality between the two variants with both missiles featuring the same terminal dart. The terminal dart is a lightweight, highly manoeuvring and agile missile equipped with a high-performance active RF seeker. Combination of aerodynamic control and direct thrust vector control, the missile is capable of high manoeuvres, and high hit-to-kill capability. Derived from the OTOMAT MK2 missile system, MILAS is designed to carry and release an MU-90, or similar, lightweight torpedo, close to the designated submarine position, as indicated by the ship sonar or by a co-operating ASW helicopter or MPA. MILAS is capable of ranges from 5 to in excess of 35 km in all directions. Brimstone Sea Spear is a rapid anti-swarming Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC) capability weapon, offering the naval operator the option of engaging a wide range of target types, including fast moving individual targets in cluttered environments, in both direct and indirect fire modes. It has a unique ability to perform both surgical strikes and salvo engagements in time critical missions with a true day/night capability.

Exocet AM39. Image Source: gill_kochta.artstation.com

MMP/SEA LAUNCHED is the variant of the land based MMP with high precision anti-surface capability against small and fast vessels, or beyond-line-of-sight land attack capability against a wide range of littoral targets. It has an unjammable stealthy data link, and real time Battle Damage Indication. CAMM (MARITIME APPLICATION), the Common Anti-air Modular Missile, is used as a ship based air defence system. CAMM has an active RF seeker that provides true all-weather performance with excellent clutter rejection capabilities. MBDA is now developing MdCN- NCM (Naval Cruise Missile) to meet the requirement for a long-range cruise missile capable of being launched from surface vessels and submarines. MBDA will use its experience of developing the Storm Shadow / SCALP air-launched cruise missile. Exocet AM39 is the airborne version of the Exocet anti-ship missile family. It can be launched from strike aircraft, Maritime Patrol Aircraft and helicopters. With a range of up to 70 km, depending on the altitude and speed of the aircraft. When carrying out a low altitude attack, the missile may also be launched under the target ship radar coverage. Ingress is at a very low altitude over the sea (sea skimming).

Exocet MM40 Block 3. Image Source: MBDA

OTOMAT MK2 BLOCK IV is the enhanced version of the all-weather OTOMAT MK2 missile system, providing improved performance in terms of OTHT (Over The Horizon Targeting). It is capable of ranges from 6 to 180 km in all directions, the system relies on powerful mission planning (3D way-points, terminal sea skimming profile, simultaneous attack from different directions). Target data is derived from the ship’s Command System or taken directly from the ship’s surface search radar. The Exocet MM40 Block 3 weapon system is the latest generation ship-borne version of the Exocet family. It has enhanced accuracy by a new navigation package, allowing optimised 3D approach trajectories and terminal attacks from different azimuths, at very low sea skimming altitude with simultaneous time on target. The terminal guidance relies on a sophisticated J-band active seeker to discriminate and select targets at sea and on the GPS accuracy for land targets. Sea Ceptor is the next-generation, ship-based, all-weather, air defence weapon system. It will protect both the host ship and high value units in the local area from combat aircraft and the new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles. Capable of multiple channels of fire, the system will also counter saturation attacks.

The EXOCET MOBILE COASTAL DEFENCE SYSTEM provides rapidly relocatable, vehicle mounted capabilities to deny access to surface threats in littoral and strategic areas. Based on the latest version of the EXOCET MM40 BLOCK 3, it provides enhanced operational performance. It has effective range of 200 km. The sensors (radar, EOS, AIS) allow autonomous operations and/or connection to a wider C3I system. SEA RANGER, is a “turnkey” combat system, tailored for patrol boats and designed to equip units dedicated to security missions in the littoral area. It is a highly modular, integrated system which can be configured according to operational requirements and platform features: advanced software command & control & communication system, weapons, sensors (radars and Electro-Optical Sensor), data-links. Exocet SM39 is the submarine-launched version of the Exocet family with sea skimming flight, solid propellant and a high kill warhead capability. The missile has a range of 50 km, which enables the submarine to go into action while remaining out of enemy detection and weapon range. Housed in a water-tight, highly resistant, propelled and guided underwater vehicle, the aerial missile is ejected as soon as it breaks the surface, to ensure a very low culmination altitude. MBDA is developing Sea Venom/ANL, a helicopter-launched, over-the-horizon anti-ship weapon system as the next generation multi-role surface attack weapon. The new design will maintain some of the characteristics of Sea Skua and AS15TT.

Exocet SM39 Submarine-launched version. Image Source: http://www.meretmarine.com/fr

SIMBAD-RC is a short-range, anti-air self defence system deploying two fire-and-forget MISTRAL missiles. It has been designed to provide a primary self defence capability on all warships or to complement the main air defences of first rank warships. It provides defence against all threats including anti-ship missiles, combat aircraft, UAVs, helicopters, as well as small surface threats such as FIACs. There is also a maritime variant of VL MICA.

MBDA’s Future Concept Vision

MBDA continues to explore and forecast tomorrow’s weapon systems led by imagination and innovation. Emphasis is on speed, accuracy, and range and on modularity in design. Future missile systems are prepared using a progressive converging process. This process gradually transforms a set of operational needs, industrial strategies, ideas and technologies into a new solution that will provide operational value to a customer. The studies for the future investigate new technologies, develop, evaluate and select concepts. Ideas and innovation come from inside MBDA and also from suppliers, SMEs, academia or other partners. Enforcer is MBDA’s answer to the need for a lightweight, high precision weapon, with stand-off capability for infantry and Special Forces, at an affordable cost. MBDA is advancing high powered lasers in developing an integrated systems approach for laser weapons with significant internal investment. The have developed a high energy laser weapon demonstrator.

The large Remote Carrier designed by Airbus and MBDA will be launched from transport aircraft such as A-400M, thus maintaining the Next Generation Fighter (NGF) as stealthy as possible. Photo: Tamir Eshel. Image Source: defense-update.com

MBDA is building, together with the best-of-their-class BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missiles), a comprehensive environment that will allow the pilot to make the best use of their performances. Through the GUSD (Guidance in Uncertain Shooting Domain) algorithms, the whole combat system of the plane, fully integrated with its missiles, is optimized. The evolution of threats, their diversity, require to evaluate new ways to integrate the missile extended air defence systems within the new battle-space with network centric warfare capabilities. A satellite communication device “Teseo” has been developed and tested by MBDA that is able to fit on a missile. MBDA is designing a solution for the Selected Precision Effects At Range, capability 3 (SPEAR 3) requirements.

L&T MBDA Missile Systems

L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited is a Joint Venture between Larsen & Toubro – India’s multinational engineering conglomerate and private sector defence major, and MBDA – a world leader in missile systems. The JV will support the Government of India’s drive towards the indigenization of the defence sector under the Make in India initiative. An ideal industrial partnership calls for complementary technology and a shared vision. L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited brings together a range of world leading skills in defence and beyond from two recognised international leaders. L&T is well positioned to support Indian armed forces with the best defence products in the world and importantly, products that have been designed, developed and manufactured in India. MBDA has been meeting missile system requirements of the Indian Armed Forces for over 50 years, and in so doing, has been working on developing an ever deeper partnership with the Indian defence industry sector. Both partners in the joint venture share a common vision – making guided weapons and guided weapons systems for India in India.

Ranked by Forbes as one of the most innovative companies in the world, Larsen & Toubro, is a major industrial conglomerate with highly diverse activities ranging from engineering and construction to technology and financial services worldwide. The company also boasts an active defence business covering a wide range of solutions. MBDA is the recognised European leader in missiles and missile systems and is able to offer the very best technology available in every segment of the market – air, land and sea. Its proven skills have seen the company being selected to lead Europe’s major collaborative programs such as Meteor, Storm Shadow / SCALP and Aster.

L&T is one of the leading private suppliers to the Indian Army, with a rich history of providing systems of strategic importance to the country. L&T has received the largest contract to any Indian private company from Indian MoD, for delivery of 100 K9 Vajra-T Guns. It is one of the only two private Indian firms, which have been qualified to manufacture and supply Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers to the Indian Army. L&T has the capability to design, develop, manufacture and provide support for a variety of Weapon Launchers, Artillery Systems, Armoured Systems, Engineering Systems and Air Defence Solutions. L&T is one of the leading Indian industry players for development, realization and supply of critical systems for naval platforms – Ships and Submarines. L&T provides technologically superior, cost-competitive solutions for new construction as well as for platforms under retrofit.

Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers. Image Source: Wikipedia

L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited is actively responding to a number of RFIs (Requests For Information) issued by the Indian MoD. Solutions being offered range from fully IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured) to Make in India. In all cases, India is being offered solutions that correspond to the very latest generation military equipment that is widely considered “best in class” in terms of operational capability. In addition, these solutions offer transfer of technology and the transfer of skills to the Indian defence sector via the JV and its extensive supply chain.

L&T is one of India’s leading private sector companies in the defence sector, with the ability to produce the high technology guided weapons and guided weapons systems that the Indian armed forces clearly need. MBDA for its part, has always been clear that its strategy for India is to be considered, not simply as a seller of defence equipment, but as a close business partner, a partner to the Indian defence industry sector and to the end user.

L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited will offer India the flexibility of choice regarding the capability required and the desired lead times for delivery. In all cases it provides India with the optimised means of acquiring and mastering the very latest and most advanced guided weapon systems technology currently available anywhere in the world.

Header Image Source: defencyclopedia.com

Published by Anil Chopra

I am the founder of Air Power Asia and a retired Air Marshal from the Indian Air Force.

One thought on “MBDA – The Power House of Missile Systems

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