Lt Gen (Retd) Michele PÉtrÉ
Michele Pétré was appointed to the Ministry of Defence/DGA in 1971. In 1982, he was attached to the Strategies Studies Group where he was responsible for research policy, nuclear deterrence and anti-ballistic missile defence.
In 1987, he was appointed in the Missiles Directorate (DGA) and since 1997 as deputy Director. In 2002, he held the appointment of Ingénieur Général Hors Classe de l’Armement, Director in charge of Future Armament Programs and Defence Research & Technology (DGA).
Michel Pétré joined MBDA on 1st November 2004 as Market Development Director. He has been also appointed as Director in the newly created JV, L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited.
He has been conferred Officier de la Légion d’Honneur and de l’Ordre National du Mérite.
Q1. In a conventional warfare scenario where two mechanized columns are manoeuvring against each other, what advantage does a modern weapon system like the MMP, a fifth-generation anti-tank missile offer?
MMP, a digital 5th generation land and urban warfare missile, is the first Army ATGM weapon system (for both Mounted & Dismounted combat) that can fully operate in a networked Battle Management System (BMS).
The weapon’s new technologies offer major advantages allowing it to be inserted into an Army’s existing or planned ISR (Information, Surveillance, and Recognition) network as an ISR node. In this respect, the system (either tripod or vehicle mounted) can fire from anywhere within the ISR network through the automatic transmission of target coordinates to the missile.
In a conventional scenario where two mechanised columns are manoeuvring against each other, coordinated fire via a networked organisation provides a major advantage. This is especially evident in complex scenarios when there are a large number of mobile enemy forces in the presence of friendly troops and there is a high risk of collateral damage. In such a scenario, rapid reaction is crucial and here again MMP has a major advantage with its uncooled seeker which provides a reaction time of a few seconds and allows for the reversibility of the firing sequence, unlike missiles equipped with a cooled seeker which also require much longer to ready for firing.
Q2. What are the distinguishing features that give MMP an advantage over other contemporary anti-tank missiles presently in service?
There are a number of unique features that combine to place MMP firmly in a category of its own, that is to say, a 5th Generation and a full generation in advance of its nearest competitors. The system with its range of more than 4km, features an uncooled seeker (with colour TV and IR channels) and allows for a very short reaction time as well as a reversible firing sequence. The operator has the option of remaining in the loop during the firing sequence through the optic fibre link or alternatively selecting the automatic LOBL (Lock on before Launch) and fire-and-forget mode.
MMP is extremely easy to operate and requires only two weeks of training to bring an operator fully up to speed. With operator safety and survivability in mind, the motor and warhead are both fully IM compliant. The missile is also maintenance free for a period of at least 10 years following delivery.
In complex scenarios, network firing can be carried out using 3D target designation provided by a third party or by the platform itself. This ensures not only the highest precision but also firing coordination with other deployed battlefield assets. Flexibility is a key requirement in the modern battlefield and this is supplied thanks to MMP’s multiple effects warhead which can be selected prior to firing for open terrain or urban warfare. Against modern armour the missile’s performance is unmatched and will penetrate 1100mm of RHA (Rolled Homogenous armour) even against vehicles equipped with the latest generation ERA.
Trajectory and attack angle are important factors in determining the efficacy of an ATGM and MMP’s high trajectory of up to 500m offers distinct advantages in desert areas. To ensure a very high kill probability against the most modern of armored vehicle defences, the missile has a greater than 30° top attack angle.
Q3. Can the missile be used in unconventional warfare against temporary defences and soft skinned vehicles and moving targets?
Yes and this is thanks to multiple effects contained within the warhead, the operator can select before firing anti-tank, anti-infrastructure or anti-personnel options. The seeker’s tracking performance allows the engagement of moving targets travelling at more than 10m/s and, if necessary, to refine the aiming point during the missile’s flight to aim for the target’s weakest point.
Q4. What is the current status of development of the Fifth-Generation Missile? What is the time line for its induction into the French Army?
The French DGA awarded MBDA the contract for the Development and Production of MMP as a replacement for Milan, Hot and Javelin at the end of 2013. The MMP system is now fully qualified and first deliveries to the French Army started in June 2017.
Q5. Being a sophisticated and modern weapon system, is the MMP likely to add to logistics in terms of storage and transportation? Are there any special requirements for handling and maintenance of the missile?
Although MMP is a digital missile featuring the very latest generation technologies giving it major performance advantages compared to all other ATGM weapons in the same category, it is easily operated and simple to use and requires no more than two weeks of training. Regarding the logistics and maintenance footprint of the MMP weapon system, MBDA has reduced this to the very minimum required to optimize operational availability. There are no special handling requirements and the missile is delivered maintenance free with no spare parts required.
Q6. How much time does a crew need to get trained on the missile? Are you developing effective simulators which can help in realistic training?
The MMP training session is very short, no more than two weeks duration. It includes a general presentation as well as safety & firing instructions. With enriched reality technology simulation a full range of firing scenarios can be practiced indoors. Equally, a combat firing simulator allows for training against targets in the field.
Q7. Does MBDA have any plans to make the missile in India through a joint venture? If yes, will MBDA be prepared to offer technology transfer to its Indian partner and facilitate ‘Make in India’ in its true sense?
In recognition of the Indian Government’s ground breaking ‘Make in India’ initiatives aimed at indigenization of the Defence Sector, in February 2017 MBDA and Larsen & Toubro set up a JV. This exciting development for the Indian defence industry sector and for the Indian armed forces, saw the creation of “L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd“, bringing together the combined skills of MBDA, a world leader in missiles and missile systems, and Larson & Toubro, one of India’s most important multinational engineering conglomerates.
The JV will operate from a dedicated work center with pyrotechnical integration and final checkout facilities to develop, manufacture and supply missiles and missile systems to potentially meet the growing requirements of the Indian armed forces. It will be registered in India and conduct business as an Indian Company, targeting opportunities that fall under the Buy (Indian – IDDM), Buy (Indian) and Buy & Make (Indian) categories of Defence Procurement.
With regard to MMP, yes, this is one of the priorities which the JV is targeting, namely to draw on this technology to offer India a 5th Generation ATGM which will be completely Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured.
I must add that partnership is the driving force behind MBDA’s strategy in India, a nation with which MBDA has the closest relationship outside of its five domestic European countries. In this respect, both the company and its domestic national governments have always been prepared to advance levels of technology transfer. With ‘Make in India’ being India’s aspiration, technology transfer has a major role to play in making sure that the Indian defence industry can meet the very real needs for new weaponry that the Indian Army has, if it is to face the major threats of the years to come. In this aspect, ATGM5 ticks all the right boxes, industrial and operational.