AMMAN, Jordan — MBDA has a new land combat missile system just recently fielded with the French Army that it hopes will gain traction in the Middle East.
The Missile Moyenne Portee fifth-generation land combat missile system “is totally new,” Francis Bordachar, a military adviser for MBDA and a former French Army colonel, told Defense News in an interview at the Special Operations Exposition this week.
“There is no equivalent,” Bordachar said, although he noted there are several companies that claim similar capabilities.
The new system was prominently displayed at the company’s booth on the expo floor and is meant to replace the MILAN anti-tank guided missile and the Lockheed Martin and Raytheon-made Javelin system.
The system is made 100 percent in France and was fielded to the French Army in October 2017. It is expected to deploy to a few undisclosed locations, but will also be sent to troops operating in Libya and Mali this summer, Bordachar said.
But the Middle East has already begun to take notice of the brand-new system.
Bordachar said MBDA has already minted a deal with one country in the region and is expected to get under contract with a second by the end of the year.
He added there are other countries in the Gulf region that have expressed interest and that the company was paid a visit at SOFEX by Bahrain special forces, who were interested in learning more about the system.
MBDA’s new system includes a newly designed anti-tank guided missile, a disposable launch tube and a firing stand.
The firing stand is equipped with advanced technology like a passive dual-band seeker that includes a TV/cooled infrared sensor with three different magnification levels for NATO-standard threat detection and identification standards, Bordachar explained.
The system also has a GPS, a digital magnetic compass and a laser rangefinder.
The missile is a multipurpose tandem warhead capable of defeating a tank — such as the Russian T-90 — and can also be used as a bunker buster, Bordachar said.
The warhead is designed to pierce through a tank or concrete walls and then detonate once inside, spraying 1,500 tungsten “splinters,” he explained, adding that they are effective out to 15 meters. Beyond that, the tungsten fragmentation would not be damaging.
The missile has a range of 4 kilometers based on the French requirement, Bordachar said. But in a test over the weekend, the missile was apparently able to hit targets at 5 kilometers, and right in the center of targets at the 4-kilometer range.
The missile in the tube weighs 15 kilograms, and the interactive firing stand weighs 11 kilograms.
The system has two firing modes for the gunner: a lock-on-before launch and a lock-on-after-launch mode for beyond line-of-sight targets.
The Missile Moyenne Portee is also effective in all weather environments, Bordachar added.
The system’s controls are designed to look and feel like video game controllers, which makes it easy for young soldiers who have grown up playing video games to learn how to use the system and employ it effectively in combat, he said.
Additionally, the weapon system comes with a training simulator, a potentially appealing feature for young gamers, making it intuitive and easy to learn the system quickly.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.