The US Navy’s SeaRAM is far from the only ship-based missile defence turret sailing the high seas. French weapons manufacturer MBDA, in fact, has just begun testing a remotely controlled missile launcher of its own. One that finally moves the turret’s operator out of the line of fire.
The original MBDA SIMBAD twin-missile launcher was originally developed in the 1990s as a stabilised, deck-mounted launcher for the company’s Mistral short-range, anti-air missiles. It performed the same basic role as the SeaRAM, a last line of defence against incoming air threats, but it was operated directly by a sailor using an optical sight. Somebody had to stand on deck — in the middle of an attack — to aim and fire.
The new SIMBAD-RC, however, makes the operator’s job much less harrowing as it is remotely controlled. Rather than standing directly behind what the attackers are shooting at, the new system places its operator safely below deck behind a command console. Each operator can control a pair of launchers from a single console.
What’s more, the platform fires MBDA’s new Mistral 2 missiles. These are fully autonomous “fire and forget” projectiles measuring 1.8m in length and carrying a 3kg HE warhead packed with tungsten ball projectiles at mach 2.5. Its passive IR seeker boasts a 93 per cent kill rate in training against everything from fixed-wing aircraft to multi-rotor UAVs. You might say this turret is SIMBAD-ass.
The RC’s improvements over its manual predecessor have made it a popular first line of defence of the French Navy’s fleet of Fast Patrol Boats, which are used largely in littoral waters, as well as an augment to existing anti-aircraft systems aboard the navy’s warships. MBDA has even begun exporting the launcher, albeit to an undisclosed foreign power. [MBDA – Naval Tech – Wiki – Army Tech – Janes]
Pictures: MBDA, Jean-Michel Roche (Net Marine)