Enforcer Forges Ahead

A rather low profile programme conducted by the German arm of MBDA during the past few years when it was still called KFK, the Enforcer very discretely showed to the careful eye at the recent Bourget air show that it had made a significant step forward by appearing as a more “operational” weapon in its olive drab finish in the manufacturer’s stand – something that a chat between the author and programme officials proved. Incidentally, the Enforcer actually embeds a number of ideas that emerged during an earlier Concept Vision brainstorming session and exhibited at ILA in 2012. A first significant milestone was achieved with the Enforcer in 2013 when two missiles were launched against a target at a range of 1,000 metres, scoring two near bull’s eyes.

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The MBDA fire-and-forget light anti-armour Enforcer missile is now getting closer to being a real programme. The tail booster canister which enables it to be launched from confined areas is no longer jettisoned after burnout and stays in place when the sustainer motor is eventually ignited. (©Eric H. Biass)

The 86mm calibre lock-on before launch Enforcer is intended to meet the needs of the German Army for a light 2,000-metre range shoulder-fired missile with a confined area firing capability. To this end it is fitted with a small booster rocket motor the combustion of which is fully completed by the time the round exits the tube. At a undisclosed distance (but evaluated by simple calculation at about 10 metres), the sustainer motor kicks into action through the booster’s spent section which is in fact not jettisoned. The propulsion system is by courtesy of Bayern Chemie and has proved its ability to keep thrusting the missile almost throughout its 2,000 metre flight at a speed of about 200 metres per second. The warhead, for its part, has the ability to act as anti-light armour (by behaving in a manner similar to an explosively formed projectile), soft target and air-burst munition.

 

The guidance system – and this is what emerged from the above-mentioned Concept Vision – is based on an “electronically gimballed” sensor. In other words, very much in the same philosophy as an electronically steered radar aerial, the “gaze” of the sensor is electronically steered to maintain contact with the target after launch. The simpler strap-on assembly devoid of any mechanical gimbal and associated drives considerably contributes to keeping costs at bay. The actual sensor operates in the near-infrared band. This enables the weapon to be used without laser designator deep after sunset, but new very low-light sensor technologies might further enhance night capabilities in the future.

 

The enforcer is launched from a square tube, which is rather unusual for this category of weapon, but there is a reason behind this need to square the circle: indeed the Enforcer uses four folding fins, but these still leave their stubs protruding from the fuselage, which are better enclosed in a square rather than a circular section tube that would otherwise need to be of larger diameter.

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This frontal view reveals the electronically gimballed (and thus fixed) near-infrared nose sensor and also explains why a square launch canister had to be adopted to park the folded aerodynamic and aft actuator fins. ( ©Eric H. Biass)

The enforcer comes in at the right moment, namely to deal with the proliferating  lighter armoured category of vehicles rather than heavy tanks, and thus cost-effectively complements the traditional anti-tank missile. In terms of aiming devices, it is planned to  use the Dynahawk fire control unit originally developed by Zeiss, or a derivative of this. Once the target parameters are handed over by the sight to the missile and the latter is sent on its way, the unit can be removed and clipped onto the next Enforcer launcher (a manpack would include two launchers and a sight).

 

After undergoing a risk-reduction phase in 2014 (particularly for what regards the unfolding of the wings as the missile pops out of its tube), end of 2015 will see full-scale development kick-off under the leadership of Germany, but with assistance from France, Britain and Italy. Should an order be placed now, MBDA would be able to start delivering in 2018.

 

Enforcer provisional characteristics:

 

Type: Shoulder-fired fire and forget

Missile calibre: 86cm

Missile weight: <7kg

Canister weight: ~2kg

Dynahawk sight:~2kg

Set (two rounds + sight): ~20kg

Range: 2,000 metres