A rendering of the Hoplite-S and Hoplite-L concepts. (MBDA)
PARIS — Most car buffs will tell you that the concept designs on manufacturers’ stands are often the most exciting part of a big international automobile show. European missile-maker MBDA has been trying to harness that kind of interest with a plan to lift the lid on potential ideas for weapons beyond 2035.
Concept Vision 2013, MBDA’s name for this year’s plan, may not have quite the same appeal as a next generation Jaguar or BMW, but the project drew over 100 futuristic ideas from engineers and other employees across Europe following a challenge by the company to come up with a battlefield engagement weapon for an army or navy circa 2035.
The plan is not so much about using the concept work to develop a new generation of weapons anytime soon, but more about encouraging company engineers and scientists to think over the horizon about future technology possibilities.
Mark Slater, MBDA’s export marketing development executive, said the concepts weren’t “science fiction but engineering reality.”
The previous three Concept Vision competitions covering other areas of complex weaponry continue to shape business thinking, he said.
Morgan Ossola, a young French engineer given the task of coordinating and managing Concept Vision 2013, said this time around, the company is looking for weapons able to meet the challenge of a more congested battlefield that is heavily defended with counter measures such as GPS jamming.
The winning idea was an artillery missile design for an imaginary family of weapons known as the Hoplite-S and Hoplite-L, both weapons with high precision and very short reaction times.
Both feature advanced mission control software to integrate real-time tactical awareness such as blue-force tracking. Both 120 kilogram-class weapons are able to reach 70 kilometers in under two minutes while remaining in army airspace.
The first, Hoplite-S, is an air-turbo-rocket-propelled utility weapon for supported engagements in congested airspace with a speed up to Mach 3.5, a range of 160 kilometers and a laser radar seeker to designate and provide altimeter and fuzing functions.
The second, Hoplite-L, has the same propulsion as the S but features a multi-mode seeker, a boosted penetrator warhead and targeting via a two-way datalink.
MBDA executives said during a briefing at the Paris Air Show on Monday that the novel air-turbo rocket and the laser radar seeker shaped the concept thinking. ■
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