STUTTGART, Germany — A European Union-funded effort to build a comprehensive beyond-line-of-sight missile capability is heading for a live-fire demonstration, and perhaps fresh support from the European Defence Fund.
LynkEUs, a project centered around European missile-maker MBDA’s MMP weapon, will participate in testing this summer after two years of development work. The EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation organization identified the need, but the weaponry has been developed thus far under the European Defence Industrial Development Program, said Frédéric Michaud, a business development executive with MBDA.
MBDA is made up of French company Airbus, U.K. firm BAE Systems and Italian business Leonardo. The team working on the capability includes the multinational missile developer as well as 10 additional partners from France, Belgium and Cyprus, along with subcontractors from France, Estonia and Sweden.
The system in development under LynkEUs draws on the fifth-generation MMP missile system for the French Army, which had a technical requirement for an anti-tank ground missile and beyond-line-of-sight capability, Michaud told Defense News. The MMP has been in use by the French Army since 2017, and it’s on order by Belgian and Swedish forces.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrated the danger involved in armored vehicles entering an urban environment, Michaud noted. LynkEUs would allow troops to fire from one location at a target, using information delivered by a third party such as forward observers or unmanned vehicles.
“You can imagine that if you have seen a target, if it takes you 10 minutes to pass information, the information may be completely obsolete,” Michaud said.
“Situations [on the battlefield] are very versatile,” he added. “It’s very important to have many different sources of information — forward observers, turrets, drones, future UGVs [unmanned ground vehicles] — to conduct a battle and arrest the enemy with the possibility to engage even from remote places, from beyond-[line-of-sight] obstacles.”
The LynkEUs program is not only about the missile system itself. Equally important is an open architecture that connects sensors and shooters.
“The idea is to help customers identify which bricks are useful and which are not useful, and how to make them work together,” Michaud explained.
Many of the components are already in some stage of production or use, including the missile, along with certain turrets and micro-UAVs, he added.
The program is under consideration to receive further support from the European Commission, after two years of support from the European Defence Industrial Development Program. Under that 2019 contract award, the EU provided €6.45 million (U.S. $6.87 million) out of a total €6.63 million program cost.
The award stated that the LynkEUs team is expected to define a preliminary concept of operations for a beyond-line-of-sight European capability and demonstrate it through a full-scale firing campaign.
“The project consists of a land missile system, a turret system to support and set up the missile using an UAV for target designation, a land platform, and an UAV providing a cyber-secured target location,” per an EU fact sheet for the program.
LynkEUs was submitted last year for consideration to be a European Defence Fund program. About 140 proposals were submitted to the EU last year, and the selected efforts are expected to be revealed this summer, an EU spokesperson wrote in an email to Defense News. A funding solicitation document shows the commission plans to allocate up to €41 million to support successful proposals related to the beyond-line-of-sight capability.
Besides MBDA, the LynkEUs team includes:
- From Belgium: the Royal Military Academy, John Cockerill Defense, FN Herstal, Thales Belgium and Xenics.
- From Cyprus: Aditess, the Cyprus Institute and SignalGeneriX.
- From France: Novadem and Safran.
- Three subcontractors: Estonia’s Milrem, France’s Delair and Sweden’s Carmenta.
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.