PARIS — European consortium MBDA has introduced a new line of fifth-generation tactical combat missiles, now dubbed Akeron, at the Eurosatory trade show near Paris this week.
The consortium — made up of French company Airbus, U.K. firm BAE Systems and Italian business Leonardo — renamed its combat-proven MMP medium-range missile and its in-development MHT long-range missile to Akeron MP and Akeron LP, respectively.
These multipurpose munitions were primarily designed as anti-tank weapons, but they can also accurately target infrastructure and personnel, business executive Frederic Michaud told reporters during a Tuesday morning briefing.
The Akeron line is intended to help militaries respond to the wide range of threats they can face on a battlefield, he added. They weapons will feature high-resolution multiband imagers, multi-effect warheads, data links, and “multi-mode guidance algorithms based on [artificial intelligence] techniques,” according to MBDA.
Operators will be able to employ multiple modes of engagement, including fire and forget, human in the loop, locking the target before firing, and locking on after firing — the latter of which facilitates firing beyond the line of sight.
Michaud said a key characteristic of the Akeron family is “collaborative engagement on the battlefield,” achieved by gathering information from drones and other unmanned systems as well as forward observers, and delivering the data to the missile system for more rapid, accurate targeting.
Choosing the names MMP and MHT, which are acronyms for the French “missile moyen portee” and “missile haut de trame,” respectively, previously led to confusion in the Anglosaxon community, he acknowledged. “We decided to take advantage of the launching of extending the family for rebranding our portfolio.”
The missile formerly known as MMP has been in service with the French Army for the past five years, and it deployed to several theaters of operation, Michaud noted. Belgium and Sweden have also selected it for their forces. The weapon has been fired more than 200 times.
The Akeron MP is meant for infantry use as a 15-kilogram (33-pound) munition, and it can be integrated on a firing post weighing 11 kilograms (24 pounds), meaning the set is easily carried by two people, Michaud said. The MP can also be integrated on the French Army’s Jaguar vehicle or lighter turrets on a remote weapon system, such as Arquus’ Hornet.
Meanwhile, the Akeron LP was designed for longer ranges. It’s a more flexible version of the MP, particularly when placed on a drone, Michaud noted. MBDA added semi-active lasers to the munition “to allow the missile to lock at a very long range on a laser spot,” he said.
The LP is souped up for anti-infrastructure targeting, he added. “It has been reinforced by the fact that the missile is equipped with a penetrator, enabling the missile to penetrate a building and then explode.”
The LP is currently under development and will arm the Tiger MkIII attack helicopters under construction by Airbus for the French and Spanish armies. France will also incorporate it into its Scorpion program, which aims to fully replace the Army’s ground vehicles, tanks, attack helicopters, and various sensors and weapons by 2040, Michaud explained.
Both missiles are featured in MBDA’s LynkEUs beyond-line-of-sight capability program, currently under consideration for support from the European Defence Fund, he added.
Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.