France's arms procurement agency has placed an order for MBDA's new-generation missile moyenne portée (MMP), an anti-tank weapon. (MBDA)
PARIS — The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) signed a contract Dec. 3 with MBDA for a new anti-tank weapon, seen as a key program for the European missile maker, the French arms procurement agency said in a statement.
The contract for the missile moyenne portée (MMP) is worth about €500 million (US $679.1), a French Defense Ministry spokesman told journalists.
The deal for MBDA’s new anti-tank weapon crushes hopes for the Javelin joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, which sought to renew sales of the US-made portable missile beyond a previous order.
First deliveries of the MMP are expected in 2017, the DGA said. The new weapon, which will equip ground troops and special operations forces, was seen as needed to replace the aging Milan missile.
The MMP’s export potential is seen as a vital factor in the sale.
Some 400 firing posts and 2,850 missiles are due for delivery under the contract, with 175 posts and 450 weapons due in 2014-’19, the period covered by France’s upcoming six-year budget law. There had been expectations that DGA would sign a contract for the new missile in June or July.
A key requirement for the MMP is to function as both a fire-and-forget and man-in-the-loop weapon.
Jobs also were seen as important. The MBDA factory in Bourges, in central France, had signs up when the country’s defense minister visited in June, saying there would be 1,500 jobs when MMP enters full production, .
The Safran group’s Sagem will supply the infrared seeker on the new missile.
The anti-tank missile is one of the three programs MBDA has said is vital to launch this year. The other two are the helicopter-borne anti-navire léger (ANL), an anti-ship weapon, and the Aster Block 1, an air defense missile with new technology.
London and Paris have signed a deal to co-produce the anti-ship missile. The British version of the ANL is known as Future Air-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy).