Traveling to the Bourges site of the company MBDA, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, announced the production launch of a new air-to-ground missile program for tactical aircraft called "High-frame missile" (MHT), in accordance with to the 2019-2025 military programming law.
This new missile is intended to meet, as a priority, the operational needs of the Tiger attack helicopter, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2028, in line with the schedule of the Tiger program. Its development and production will be carried out by manufacturer MBDA, which will ensure the full sovereignty of its employment in operations by the French forces and control of its future developments.
Developed from the MBDA’s Medium Range Missile (MMP), the new MHT will be fired at a range of over eight kilometers, including at targets that are not visible to the shooter, thanks to a particularly efficient guidance system.
The MHT, which is intended to be particularly competitive both operationally and financially, will make it possible to consolidate the position of the European missile company MBDA in the field of airmobile combat.
The MHT benefits from the results of several preparatory studies launched by the General Directorate of Armament (DGA), which focused on a new secure high-speed radio-frequency data link, a particularly compact multipurpose warhead and the addition of a laser channel to the MMP seeker, in addition to the current infrared and visible light channels.
The MHT is a key part of the Tiger's adaptation to the future battlefield. The MHT will provide the Tiger helicopters with the ability to neutralize day and night, with high accuracy and with controlled ancillary, targets such as tanks and infrastructure.
À Bourges, je suis fière d’annoncer que @byMBDA, fleuron de notre industrie de défense et leader européen dans la conception de missiles, équipera nos hélicoptères Tigre de l’armée de Terre de leur nouveau missile haut de trame (MHT). 1/7 pic.twitter.com/MtDVvDyzys— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) November 13, 2020
Like the MMP, it will incorporate both “fire-and-forget” and “man in the loop” capabilities, which make it suitable for collaborative combat, in particular allowing the shooter to engage a target out of his direct sight on coordinates provided by another actor on the battlefield, to complete the final guidance to the target, or even to engage a target of opportunity.
Finally, the MHT’s weight, reduced to about thirty kilos, will allow the Tiger to benefit from an increased loiter time in the combat zone (“playtime”) while carrying the same number of missiles.
The Minister of the Armed Forces announced the acquisition, for the French Army's Aviation Command, Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre (ALAT), of 500 missiles as well as firing simulators and training missiles.
The development and production of this new missile will involve more than 600 people employed within MBDA and also by its mostly French subcontractors.
The MAST-F program will generate around 350 full time equivalent jobs during its development, and a total of about 250 full time equivalent jobs in France during its production phase.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Speaking while visiting MBDA’s factory in Bourges, central France, Parly said that the MHT’s launcher, including four missiles, will weigh only 200 kg,
allowing the Tiger helicopter to consume less fuel and therefore to accomplish longer missions.
She also said the program’s schedule calls for award of the contract by the end of the year, technical qualification in 2026, and initial deliveries from 2028, in parallel with those of the upgraded Tiger Mk III.)