MBDA highlights full weapons package for RMAF MRCA requirement

LIMA 2017
Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition
21 - 25 March 2017
Langkawi Airport - Malaysia
MBDA highlights full weapons package for RMAF MRCA requirement
Given that both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Rafale have now been shortlisted to provide the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) its future MRCA (Multi-Role Combat Aircraft), the European missiles manufacturer MBDA is making a highlight of its range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons at the LIMA 2017 exhibition.
LIMA International Maritime and Aerospace defense exhibition 2017 37 MBDA MICA IR/RF air-to-air missiles at LIMA 2017
The RMAF’s aging fleet of MiG-29s needs to replaced, especially given the rising temperature of international relations and intensifying strategic concerns in the region. Whether Rafale or Typhoon, a fleet of 18, state of the art aircraft will be playing a major part in protecting Malaysia’s sovereignty. To ensure that the RMAF will be able to carry out its very demanding role, and by extension, serve Malaysia to the best of its ability, this new fleet of aircraft will need to be equipped with the very latest in guided weapons technology to optimize operational capability.

For the Rafale, the MBDA weapons suite includes MICA, Meteor, Storm Shadow/SCALP and Exocet AM39. The Storm Shadow/SCALP, long-range cruise missile has proven its unerring accuracy and ability to strike key infrastructure targets under combat conditions in Iraq and Libya and has been deployed by the air forces of France, Italy and the UK. Exocet needs no describing as it remains the eponymous anti-ship weapon and has been deployed in various theatres. In the air-to-air arena, MICA, with its unique feature of interchangeable IR and RF seekers combines exceptionally well with Meteor, complementing the latter’s very long range with its intermediary short and approaching beyond visual range capability.

In fact MICA’s ability to fly out to BVR in passive mode before the seeker locks on in the final stages of the end game has earned it the sobriquet “silent killer” as the target has little time to react or to deploy effective countermeasures.
LIMA International Maritime and Aerospace defense exhibition 2017 39MBDA SPEAR air launched surface attack weapon
MBDA’s Meteor Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weapon is the result of a six-European nation programme to provide the key future BVR air-to-air armament for Europe’s new generation of combat platforms including of course the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. It has already entered service on the Gripens of the Swedish Air Force. This missile’s very long range combined with its ramjet-induced speed, result in a weapon that has an unequalled No Escape Zone.

In fact Meteor has been designed to be many times superior to the most sophisticated current and emerging Medium Range Air to Air Missile (MRAAMs) threat. Its advantages provide an added dissuasive power to an air force in so far as any enemy will need to think seriously before venturing into potentially lethal air space as with Meteor, there can only ever be one winner! The advanced technology contained within Meteor controls speed and fuel consumption throughout the flight envelope. This ensures that maximum power and hence agility are maintained at the extremes of range where other weapons in the same class have long since ceased being effective. This also provides a cost benefit in so far as a single Meteor will suffice whereas other very long range missiles need to be fired in salvos to have some chance of success. With China purportedly preparing its own ramjet-powered weapon, the PL-21 for its new J-11B and J-20 fighters for long-range interception, Meteor is a truly must have weapon in the region.

ASRAAM provides the short range air combat capability for the Eurofighter Typhoon and is recognized for being the anti-dogfight weapon. The missile’s unparalleled speed off the rail gives a first shot, first kill capability so with ASRAAM, the need to get involved in the hit and miss uncertainly of a traditional dogfight is avoided.

For the anti-surface role (both stationary and moving), MBDA is actively developing the SPEAR weapon for the UK RAF’s Typhoons. With a range out beyond 100km and high sub-sonic flight, this next generation, network enabled weapon is capable of dealing with an extremely broad target set ranging from fast, moving manoeuvring vehicles including main battle tanks (MBTs), hardened structures, air defence units and missile launchers to naval vessels. SPEAR is an extremely compact weapon featuring a multi-mode seeker optimising its use for both day and night operations regardless of weather conditions. It also includes multi-effects GPS/INS guidance with a data link so that target updates can be transmitted during the missile’s flight. The missile’s high precision will ensure that it is compliant with increasingly complex and demanding rules of engagement. A turbojet propulsion unit provides the high velocity necessary to strike time sensitive targets before they can inflict damage or take cover.

LIMA International Maritime and Aerospace defense exhibition 2017 38And MBDA's Dual Mode Brimstone ground attack missile 
For shorter range anti-surface engagements, the Typhoon can also deploy MBDA’s Brimstone missile which has been highly spoken of around the world following its successful deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently Syria. In these war theaters, Brimstone has proven its capability against not only fast moving armoured vehicles, 4x4s and even motorbikes but also against snipers concealed behind compound walls. In every case, Brimstone struck with extreme accuracy and zero collateral damage, a crucial feature in today’s complex battle environment. Perhaps of special to Malaysia is Brimstone’s unique capability of giving fast combat jets the possibility of engaging swarming FIACs (Fast Inshore Attack Craft) a fast emerging and worrying threat in coastal waters. With its dual-mode seeker allowing for both man-in-the-loop and fire-and-forget firing options, Brimstone is a true representation of MBDA’s unmatched mastery in pushing out the frontiers of missile technology.

One of MBDA’s key advantages over its competitors in the sector lies in its ability to offer customers a choice. A one size fits all approach is far from ideal given that each customer has to face very specific threats and hence has very specific ideas about the kind of operational capability required. Both Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon have been integrated with the Storm Shadow/SCALP already described. However on the Eurofighter Typhoon, there is also the option of another equally potent, long range cruise missile, the Taurus KEPD 350E. Both feature the highest levels of accuracy but can offer the customer a choice in terms of the kind of warhead and guidance system preferred. What is sure, whichever aircraft the RMAF finally selects, its pilots will be flying high, armed with the very best weapons available. These weapons will serve, not only to protect Malaysia’s skies and sovereign interests further afield, they will also help to ensure that the RMAF’s pilots return home safely once their mission has been accomplished.