The article below is a summary of an article written in French by Jacques Doumic and Vincent Guibout published in the armament engineers magazine n° 109 (http://www.caia.net/page/517/la-revue)
The Milan, with its 2,000m range, was fully satisfactory for many years based on its simple characteristics: efficient against tanks, guided by alignment, the shooter positioning his line of sight on the target until impact. It had economic advantages too: intelligence in the firing post, rustic munitions and moderately priced. But with the evolving operational context, the MMP [missile moyenne portée] land combat missile system was conceived with the ambition of jumping several generations in one go: range of 4,000m, versatile ammunition, firing from a confined space, but, above all, guided.
To remove the permanent “man in the loop” constraint and propose a “fire and forget” capacity allowing the infantryman to disengage immediately after firing, the MMP has a dual-band seeker (uncooled IR and TV channel) with unequalled lock-on capacities even in the desert where the target and its environment are almost at the same temperature.
Beyond the “fire-and-forget” that only allows targets which one can see to be engaged, it was also necessary to be able to control the missile until impact. Thanks to its fibre-optic data link
(which, for the duration of the flight, sends images in real-time seen by the seeker), the gunner can change targets if he finds a higher value one (a command vehicle for example), detail the point of impact (window to enter a building), or, on the contrary, turn the missile towards a safe zone if there is a sudden risk of collateral damage. This “man above the loop” capacity means the missile’s operational performance relies on a choice in terms of curves of the trajectory, speed of the missile, field of the seeker and ergonomy of the firing post. In this field, cooperation with [the French army’s technical service] the STAT, was of inestimable value!
At every stage, use of simulators was massive: battle lab to confirm the key requirements, then digital simulation at the heart of MBDA’s developments and today it is allowing the soldier to familiarise himself with his weapon system, to acquire the right reflexes and maintain operational competence at the best level, all at a cost which remains under control. The results are there: the infantry’s operational capacities are going to be multiplied.
Further down the line, work to integrate the MMP onto the Jaguar have been launched and the weapon system can now begin its export career, one we hope will be as successful as those of MBDA’s previous land combat systems. The innovative technologies developed for the MMP will be used again, giving rise to a family of products centred on the MMP: greater range, networked, air platforms…
The MMP was developed in record time, thanks to resolute work by MBDA and very strong support from the DGA’s [French procurement agency] programme directorate: conception initiated in 2010, development tests in 2011 and in 2013-2014, first flight tests in summer 2014. The missile is currently being qualified by the DGA and first deliveries should take place in 2017.
General Charles Beaudouin, director of the STAT, told French parliamentarians on 17/02/2016 “MBDA’s MMP will only be put into service in 2018 but we are perfectly familiar with it because we took part in defining the man-machine interfaces. We have a real partnership – thats the way it mush be understood – between the chosen manufacturer, the DGA and the armies.”