COLOGNE, Germany — European missile-maker MBDA has nabbed a deal with the French government to outfit the Army’s Tiger combat helicopters with a derivative of the company’s shoulder-fired anti-tank missile.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly announced during at visit at MBDA’s Bourges, France, site on Nov. 13 that the government had picked the company for the Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile program.
The pan-European arms company had proposed its MHT missile for the project, which is short for “high-tier, long-range missile” in French.
“With the MHT, France makes a choice of sovereignty, support for our national industry and our freedom of action,” Parly declared via Twitter. “A new-generation missile controlled permanently by our military.
“From the decision to the action, the human is always in the loop thanks to an instant video feed: the missile’s eyes are those of the operator.”
According to MBDA, the missile has a range of 8 kilometers and weighs 20 percent less than comparable weapons in the same category. That translates into a weight savings of almost 100 kilograms, which would increase helicopter mileage, the company said in a statement.
Once fired, the weapon sends a constant video feed to the helicopter crew, meaning it can be redirected during what MBDA calls “fluid battlefield situations.”
Notably, the new missile is based on the mid-range Missile Moyenne Portée, or MMP, a land-based weapon that started out as a shoulder-fired ant-itank missile that can also be mounted on vehicles. The French government and MBDA have positioned the MMP missile to become the go-to, armor-killing infantry weapon by way of a European Union endorsement, though competition from the Israeli-designed EuroSpike missile promises to be stiff.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.