On 8 June 2022, MBDA launched its new family of fifth generation combat weapons: named Akeron.
The Akeron family includes the Akeron MP, a combat proven lightweight medium range munition previously known as the MMP, and the Akeron LP, developed in the context of the Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile (MAST-F) programme for the French Armed Forces and previously known as MHP.
Akeron LP builds on the technologies of the Akeron MP and features a range of over eight kilometres as well as a 20 percent weight reduction compared to other missiles. Designed to arm the French Army’s Airbus Tiger helicopters, it provides a weight saving of 100kg on the helicopter.
Speaking to Armada International during Eurosatory 2022, Frederic Michaud said: “Launching the MHT was the opportunity to create a family of lightweight missiles now known as Akeron MP and LP.” The Akeron family is multi-purpose – anti-tank, infrastructure, personnel, light vehicle – and can serve multiple missions in a wide variety of environments – from peacekeeping to high-intensity combat and from urban to naval warfare.
“The name ‘Akeron’, which is the name of a Greek god, is a very clear reference to our European roots and our desire to develop sovereign European weapon systems,” says Michaud, “as is the participation of Akeron MP in the LynkEUs programme.” LynkEUs is a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), started in 2019, that seeks “to define a preliminary concept of operations for a Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) European capability”, as noted in the programme’s technical fiche.
As part LynkEUs, Akeron MP works in collaboration with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The UAV is launched from a land platform to act as a remote sensor and feed real-time, BLOS tactical information to the missile operator. When a target has been detected, the operator prepares the firing sequence on the basis of the information received from the UAV and launches the missile. As the missile flies toward the target, the operator receives real-time images from the missile system and locks the target when it is in sight.
The successful first operational demonstration of collaborative engagement between UAV and Akeron MP was announced in January 2021. “Currently demonstrations have been done with the Akeron MP, but we have proposed a follow-up phase of the programme to the European Commission where we plan to also include the Akeron LP,” Michaud concludes. In practical terms, this would mean being able to hit a target BLOS at an 8km range and with high precision.
by Dr. Alix Valenti