MBDA’s Cyber-Secure Multi-Mission Firing Control Unit

During Euronaval, MBDA presented its Multi-Mission Firing Unit (MMFU), MBDA’s new cyber-secured firing unit designed to operate all MBDA’s weapon systems.

“Currently, on ships, each weapon system is linked to its own firing unit, a large cabinet that places certain constraints on a ship’s architecture,” Bruno Moretti, MMFU Chief Engineer, said during the press briefing organised in the context of Euronaval. Beyond the footprint on the ship’s architecture, this approach also means that when a weapon system is changed, the whole unit needs to be changed as well. “A resource-intensive process in terms of time, money and human resources, especially when one considers that weapon systems now evolve much faster than they did before” Moretti added.

To offer its customers more flexility throughout the lifetime of their capabilities, MBDA has designed the MMFU, a digitalised firing unit that manages all onboard weapon systems and communicates directly with the ship’s Combat Management System (CMS).

“The MMFU has been developed following a Lego Brick approach,” Moretti told journalists. It is based on three key bricks. The CBOX is the software operating all the systems, and has been designed following what MBDA refers to as a ‘ring approach’: “Every time a new weapon system is added, it is integrated into the ring of softwares, as though one would be adding a bead to a beads neckless.” The SIMBOX is the hardware interfaced with ammunition. Finally, the SEQBOX manages the launchers.

At the heart of this Lego Brick approach is the idea that when a new – or simply additional – weapon system is added, only the SIMBOX needs to be changed – or added. The customer can then simply update the software in order for the weapon system to be operational on the ship. “The result is a system that offers customers much more flexibility for ship design, since only two – for redundancy – CBOX are placed on the ship rather than a large firing unit for each weapon  system,” Moretti told journalists. The whole system is cyber secure.

The first MMFU will be delivered on board the first French – in 2024 – and Greek FDIs. It will be the ITR-A and ITR-E, named after the French acronym for the MMFU (Installation de Tir Reconfigurable), A for Aster and E for Exocet. ITR-A has also been offered for the PANG, while the ITR-A and E has been offered for the Horizon frigates. “Currently the system is designed to work with French missile systems only because this is where the original need came from, but evolutions are part of the roadmap,” Moretti concluded.

by Dr. Alix Valenti (International Defence & Security Expert)