MBDA UK Announces Digital Battlespace Facility; Pushes Forward Narrower Range of Missiles

MBDA Digital Battlespace Facility
Flight training devices in the new MBDA Digital Battlespace Facility at Stevenage. (MBDA)

On 10 May, MBDA UK managing director, Chris Allam, introduced the company’s new Digital Battlespace Facility (DBF) located at Stevenage.

The DBF is a multi-domain battlelab that will be used by company technicians to develop new weapon requirements and designs, as well as being used by customers for evaluating weapons systems and training in the air, land and maritime environments. It will be used to bring together models, simulations and equipment and people throughout the weapons systems lifecycle.

Allam then spoke of the benefits that are expected from the delayed UK France summit earlier this year, with a number of joint programmes including Storm Shadow/SCALP, Meteor, Sea Venom/ANL, and Aster50/50.

Missile production refocused

The company has been able to reduce the types of missiles produced from 22 to only five. These include Block 6 ASRAAM, the effectiveness of which was illustrated by the recent shooting down of a small hostile drone with a missile fired from an RAF Typhoon. The RAF have fired a total of 15 ASRAAMs to date.

The upgraded Brimstone 3 is in production and the air-launched variant is being requalified. A vehicle launched variant is being developed for the British Army’s Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) and the company is confident that it will be used on other vehicles including the Supacat High Mobility Transporter.

CAMM and CAMM ER are becoming best-sellers with Poland having placed the largest ever contract for the missiles. In total, MBDA will provide missiles and missile launchers valued at £1.9 billion to support Poland’s modernisation and manufacture of 22 PILICA+ air defence batteries, making it the largest European short-range air defence acquisition programme in NATO.

Designed by PGZ, PILICA+ will combine MBDA’s CAMM short-range radar-guided missiles with Polish-made auto cannon and very-short range infrared guided missiles into a triple-layer system commanded by a Polish command and control system and guided by Polish radars.

MBDA is also involved in sharing pioneering technology to develop Mala Narew, Poland’s future Ground-Based Air Defence (GBAD) system, as well a Poland’s new Mieczik frigate and its Ottokar-Broza tank destroyer programme. MBDA is in discussion with PGZ for production in Poland.

MBDA recently test fired a new medium-range missile defence system using the CAMM-ER missile. The Medium Advanced Air Defence System (MAADS) is destined for induction into the Italian Air Force, replacing the SPADA short-range air defence system. In a trial, the system detected, identified, and evaluated a target drone simulating an enemy missile before launching the CAMM-ER for interception. The MAADS consists of a Detection Centre module, launcher, and the CAMM-ER, which has a range of 40 kilometres (26 miles).

Recent MBDA-related highlights include the South Korean KF-21 integration of METEOR beyond visual range air-to-air missile and its first ejection trials.

There is growing interest in MBDA’s SPEAR which is undergoing qualification while development of CAMM ER is underway. These are among the advanced air-launched weapons expected to be used by Tempest FCAS and the European SCAF projects as well as the GCAP. For the latter programme, MBDA will form teams with Italy and Japan and aim for fast integration of it weapons.

Future projects include the development of MBDA’s Dragon Fire laser direct energy weapons with Qinetiq, and a stealthy subsonic successor to Storm Shadow to be revealed in 2025.

MBDA UK employs 4,900 in the UK at its facilities at Stevenage, Bolton, Bristol, Bedford and Henlow and its total 2022 sales was £1.2 billion.

by David Oliver