MBDA has completed the integration and factory acceptance test of the first Multi-Purpose Combat Vehicle (MPCV) vehicles designed to operate the Mistral surface to air missile. Built for export, these vehicles represent the first production batch. In the next few days, they will be shipped for delivery to the customer country before the end of the year, as announced at the contract signing in February 2011. The customer is believed to be the Saudi-Arabian National Guard (SANG), which ordered 68 MPCV air defense vehicles from French company Lohr in 2011.
The MPCV, developed by MBDA in cooperation with Rheinmetall Defence Electronics (RDE) of Germany, has been designed to meet emerging requirements for a highly mobile weapon system which can be adapted for different missions, either air defence or land combat, depending on the type of missiles it operates. The first development, which is now being delivered, is aimed at air defence and comprises a motorized and stabilized turret that includes electro-optical sensors, a small caliber gun and four, ready-to-fire Mistral missiles with four more missiles stored in the vehicle for re-loading. Additional versions dedicated to land combat are planned for development. The MPCV (Multi-Purpose Combat Vehicle) is based on the German-produced Mercedes Unimog 5000 chassis, a high-mobility 4×4 armored vehicle offered by SOFRAME (of the French Lohr group). The deal also includes 264 Aravis armored vehicles, produced by Nexter and 15 ambulances, all to be provided by Lohr.
This automatic system in its air defence configuration was validated by several Mistral missile firings, including the engagement in only a few seconds, of two targets approaching simultaneously from two different directions. The success of this test demonstrated MPCV’s ability to counter a saturating attack. With this first version in full production, MBDA is now ready to move ahead with a land combat version of the MPCV. This will deploy the totally new MMP surface attack missile which is currently being developed by MBDA.
According to Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA the development of the MPCV took four years and was fully funded by the company. “It then took less than three years after the signing of the first contract to integrate the systems on a vehicle chosen by the end customer, deliver at the agreed date and implement a technology transfer under which the customer will be able, in complete autonomy, to keep its equipment in operational condition.” Parallel to the delivery of factory-finished systems MBDA is completing the installation of a final assembly line in the customer country where the remaining vehicles will undergo final integration, using MBDA provided MPCV kits.
Mistral is a short-range (6 km class) surface-to-air missile capable of intercepting a wide variety of aerial targets including those with even a low infrared signature. It is characterised by an outstanding success rate (96% from more than 4,500 live firings), a high effectiveness against manoeuvring targets, and has demonstrated its capabilities against fixed-wing aircraft, nap-of- the-earth helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles as well as moving land vehicles and Fast Inshore Attack Craft at sea. Mistral, in its land, naval and airborne applications, has been selected by 40 armed forces of 28 countries. More than 17,000 missiles have been produced. Saudi-Arabia is believed to have acquired 600 missiles prior to the MPCV acquisition.