Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2020-05-03

Glimpse at Missile Systems of the Future

Future missile systems are prepared using a progressive converging process. This process gradually transforms a set of operational needs, industrial strategies (either government driven or internally promoted), ideas and technologies into a new solution that will provide operational value to a customer. In this process, all the environment is taken into account, and a permanent open discussion is maintained between the technical and commercial levels and with the customers.
 
MBDA is going beyond imagination, fostering a mindset and creating an operational context, with its Concept Visions. The company is engaging with customers about their needs in future conflicts and developing products and systems to address those.
 
As part of MBDA’s preparation phase, the Future Systems Directorate is in charge of conducting studies that will investigate and mature new technologies, as well as develop, evaluate and select concepts and refine requirements. In the development phase, the lead is transferred to the Programmes Directorate that will be in charge of the development of the solution. Though the duration of all this process and innovation come from inside the company, ideas are also taken from suppliers, SMEs, academia or other partners  and integrated into the solution building.
 
Investing in Innovation
MBDA takes into consideration all sorts of technologies and solutions that have a potential to deliver operational value to customers.  It invests in technology, integration, concept of employment, economic model and all other aspects to improve products performance. Below is a look at some of MBDA’s recent innovations:
 
Enforcer: Offering Low-collateral Competence
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 and also in urban environments.
 
The modular design of the Enforcer system enables a range of future development options, including a prospective ‘family’ of Enforcer munitions for land, air and sea applications. Enforcer has been under contract for Germany since December 2019. The contract will fulfil the German requirement for a lightweight, day/night, precision-guided weapon system with an effective range of more than 1,800 m. Resulting from a multinational MBDA development effort, Enforcer will complement the ‘Wirkmittel 90’ shoulder-launched unguided munition capability in the German Army. 
 
Dynamic Laser Effectors
Mini drones represent a new type of threat demanding the consideration of new solutions, beyond conventional effectors. Recent incidents have seen mini drones disrupting high profile events and flying over protected locations. Highly precise and scalable laser weapon systems could protect major events and critical infrastructures and close a current capability gap.
 
MBDA’s successes have led to the development of a high energy laser weapon demonstrator. MBDA Deutschland has developed and successfully tested a high energy laser weapon demonstrator against a broad range of threats, including rapidly manoeuvrable, highly dynamic targets such as mini-UAVs.  Functionality of the full operation of a laser weapon system has been proven in a series demonstrations and tests from target acquisition, engagement and destruction at distances of up to 2km.
 
MBDA is examining laser-armament options for naval and air applications as well as ground-based mobile laser effector concepts with capacities in excess of 100kW, 360-degree coverage and open system architecture for close and intermediate-range protection against micro UAVs and RAM (rocket and mortar) targets.
 
The company can also provide full system solutions complementing conventional weapon systems with laser effectors. At the heart of the technology demonstrator is a multi-stage, highly precise tracker and laser effector that bundles numerous laser sources into a single laser beam using the principle of geometric coupling. This approach makes it possible to combat small, highly agile targets reliably with a single laser effector.
 
With the best-of-its-class BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missiles), MBDA is building 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 plane combat system, fully integrated with its missiles, is optimised.
 
The introduction of BVRAAM such as the Meteor ramjet-powered missiles will give air superiority to the fighters, but also give new challenges to pilots.
 
With the extended capabilities of the missile, the pilot will face a larger number of situations where they will have to make tough decisions about the good time to launch the weapon (depending on the probability for the adversary to be able to avoid the shoot thanks to an escape manoeuvre) and about the right time to disengage the plane and break the datalink with the missile (thus leaving it “on its own”) without decreasing the success probability.
 
Building on its experience of the uncertainties that affect the result of an air-to-air interception attempt, and on the new possibilities offered by the growing computational power on board planes and missiles, MBDA has designed and is testing new algorithms that provide the pilot with new information (in the Head-Up-Display) about the probability of the interception success, thus allowing them to take the right decision at the right time.
 
Such algorithms have also been designed for the missile itself, so that it can make the best use of the information seen by the plane’s sensors to optimise its own probability of success.
 
In these new algorithms lies the possibility to enhance the whole combat system composed of the plane and its missiles.
 
TESEO Satcom Offers New Possibilities
On long range cruise and anti-ship missiles, the ability to communicate with the launch platform or even with a remote battle management centre far away from the battlefield offers a broad range of new possibilities, from ensuring the kill assessment to allowing an in-flight target reallocation. A satellite communication device has been developed and tested at MBDA Italy. It can fit on a TESEO missile.
 
SPEAR Capability 3: Maximising Combat Capibility
Building on the technology developed for various programmes (including the Brimstone and the Dual Mode Brimstone Air-to-Ground missiles), MBDA UK is designing a solution for the Selected Precision Effects at Range (SPEAR 3), capability 3 requirements. This new, F-35 Lightning II internal bay compatible, air-to-surface missile would allow an attack with high precision and low collateral damage at stand-off ranges with a cost-efficient missile, against a very broad range of surface targets.
 
The next generation air launched surface attack weapon, SPEAR is MBDA’s response to a component of the UK’s SPEAR air launched requirement. The weapon will maximise the potential of the UK’s future combat air capability, matching the weapon to the aircraft.
 
Recent conflicts have demonstrated the need for precision strike weapons that can operate night and day in all weather conditions against severe countermeasures and importantly attack moving and manoeuvring targets. Powered by a turbojet engine, SPEAR has the beyond horizon reach to ensure that the aircraft remains safely away from hostile air defence units.
 
SPEAR is equipped with the latest generation precision effects warhead, designed to meet the demands of the future combat mission. The weapon will allow the warfighter to reduce the numbers of different weapons within inventory while also extending the operator’s ability to engage mobile, fleeting and re-locatable targets far beyond the horizon. SPEAR will provide high aircraft survivability with a low collateral damage solution.
 
Reference Text/Photo:
 

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