From December 10 to 22, the Picardie Battle Group carried out an operation in the Three Borders region of southeastern Mali, during which the new medium-range missile (Missile à Moyenne Portée) was deployed and used for the first time in-theater.
Arriving in the operations area at dawn, the soldiers of Picardie BG leapt from their armored vehicle to set up the MMP on top of a ridge. Within the group of six soldiers, each has a definite role: commander, gunner, loader, rear gunner, a radio/marksman and driver.
The MMP is now in place. Sergeant Nicolas and the gunner begin to observe their surroundings, and the terrain appears in detail in the MMP’s sight. The operator scans each specific point, using the built-in zoom to refine his search. For Sergeant Nicolas, "the MMP is an exceptional weapon system for observation by day and night. The "fusion" mode detects heat sources and allows us, for example, to detect an individual hiding in a grove or behind a tree. "
This new missile is a true digest of electronic innovations: with a range of over 4,000 meters, it can be used both as for anti-personnel and anti-vehicle strikes as well as against fortifications and high-value targets. This is an interesting innovation in the Sahelo-Saharan the theater of operations, where the flanks of some rock formations can be used as shelters by members of armed terrorist groups.
On a technical level, the MMP is easy to use, as the sergeant demonstrated: "To switch from anti-personnel mode to anti-infrastructure mode, I just go to the MMP firing station’s drop-down menu and check the corresponding box. Then, since the system’s core is located in the missile itself, after firing my gunner sees in his sight exactly what the missile seeker sees. He can therefore switch targets at any time, thanks to the optical fiber that connects the missile to his console. The missile is equipped with a camera with vision day and night of a remarkable quality," he adds.
Before their deployment, Sergeant Nicolas and his gunner underwent specific training on the MMP at the French Army’s Infantry School in Draguignan.
A major innovation developed for army infantry and light cavalry units, the MMP is the successor of the Milan system. Now deployed for the first time on combat operations, it will gradually equip the majority of first-line units.
Led by the French armed forces, in partnership with the G5 Sahel countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on August 1st, 2014. It is based on a strategic approach based partnership with the main countries of the Sahel-Saharan strip (BSS): Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina-Faso. It brings together some 4,500 military personnel whose mission is to fight against armed terrorist groups and to support the armed forces of partner countries so that they can take engage this threat, notably within the framework of the joint G5 Sahel force which is being established.