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Air-Launched Weapons

MBDA unveils future air combat weapon systems concepts

08 July 2019
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MBDA’s high-supersonic cruise missile concept. Source: MBDA

MBDA has unveiled a family of concept air-launched weapons and enabling effectors envisaged to prospectively address the air-to-air, tactical, and deep strike requirements of the next generation of European air combat platforms, such as the French/German/Spanish Next-Generation Fighter/Future Combat Air System (NGF/FCAS) and the UK-led Tempest system. Elements of these concepts are also being offered to meet the near-term requirements of the current generation of European air combat platforms, including the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.

The rationale driving the concept, according to MBDA, is grounded in the anticipated evolution and distribution of advanced adversarial air-defence systems and the application of increasingly complex anti-access, area denial (A2/AD) strategies, using combined, large-scale, surface-to-air and air-to-air assets. To deliver desired operational effects, aircraft and air effectors "will need to be able to enter denied areas, see threats before being seen, force hidden threats to uncover early enough to suppress them, and always react quicker than the adversary".

Accordingly, weapon systems of the future will need to be agile, low observable, networked (able to exchange tactical information and target co-ordinates in real time with platforms and other network nodes), highly survivable systems, resilient to any form of attack (e.g., electronic warfare [EW], cyber). "In the next 10-20 years, permanent air superiority as we know it will be over - local and temporary air superiority will be possible with significant effort. To deliver wide effects against targets deep in enemy territory in the future will require penetration strategies and effects to avoid attrition, to saturate and overwhelm the maximum number of defences, and at the same time destroy a considerable number of high-value targets with great precision and without collateral damage," an MBDA spokesperson told Jane's .

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