Air-Launched Weapons

France looks to MAST-F options

23 March 2018
A Brimstone missile being fired from an AH-64E Apache Guardian Helicopter at the US Army Yuma Proving Grounds during the UK MoD-sponsored KEME firing trials in June 2016. France will evaluate a ‘Brimstone 3’ option as one of the candidates for its MAST-F requirement. Source: Boeing

The French Direction générale de l’armement (DGA – Directorate General of Armaments) has awarded MBDA in France a EUR1.657 million (USD204.3 million) contract to submit detail on three air-to-surface missile options to inform a French Army decision on its Future Tactical Air-Surface Missile (Missile Air-Surface Tactique Futur – MAST-F) requirement.

The MAST-F solution is intended to equip the army’s upgraded Airbus Helicopters EC665 Tigre/Tiger HAD (Hélicoptère d'Appui Destruction) Mk3 standard attack helicopters, work on which is scheduled to begin in the 2023 timeframe. The MAST-F missile is planned to replace the current air-to-surface anti-armour capability provided by the Lockheed Martin AGM-114K1A/114N1A Hellfire II missiles, which France acquired under a foreign military sales request in November 2015.

The contract, entitled ‘Etude de consolidation des options MHT, EMMH, Brimstone 3 pour le programme de Missile Air-Surface Tactique Futur (MAST-F)’ (Consolidation Study of MHT, EMMH, Brimstone 3 options for the Future Tactical Air-Surface Missile [MAST-F] programme), was awarded in October 2017, but notice of the award was only issued on 1 March 2018.

MHT (Missile Haut de Trame, loosely translated as High Tier Missile) is a range evolution of the 140 mm calibre Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP – Medium-range missile) developed by MBDA in France for the French Army.

Characterised as a ‘fifth generation’ land combat system, MMP features a new-generation Sagem-developed dual-band colour TV/uncooled infrared seeker allowing engagement of both hot and cold targets; a new 2 kg 115 mm multipurpose scalable effects warhead developed by Saab Bofors Dynamics Switzerland (SDBS), with two selectable modes – anti-armour and anti-infrastructure – both of which feature an anti-personnel capability; a real-time fibre optic spool data-link, and a two-stage propulsion system, solid rocket motor and booster. In its tactical canister, MMP is 1300 mm in length and weighs 15 kg.

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