MBDA demonstrates the performance of its Mistral 3 missile against drones

In the end, nothing wants a real demonstration! It is essentially on this paradigm that MBDA relied to organize, on November 6, 2019, a live fire demonstration capabilities of its Mistral 3 light anti-aircraft missile against aerial drones, or UAVs, in front of a delegation from nearly 15 countries who came especially for the occasion. And the French missile "did the job", by shooting down two MIRACH 40 target drones in quick succession reproducing the different aspects of the UAVs used today in the armies, including a shot on target from more than 7 km away.

Manufactured in more than 16.000 units, the Mistral portable anti-aircraft missile has been delivered, since its entry into service in 1988 in the French armies, to 32 countries, and remains in service in around twenty of them, including 9 European countries. . Recently, it is Serbia which ordered the Mistral 3 for his armies. Unlike the American Stinger or the Russian Strela, the Mistral cannot be supported by an infantryman to fire, and requires a light and transportable firing station to support the 20 kg of the 1 meter long missile. This excess weight brings, however, significant advantages, such as a range exceeding 80 km and a speed of Mach 7, where a Stinger cannot exceed a range of 2,7 km, and a speed of Mach 5. In addition, the Mistral is known to be extremely precise, with a hit on target in 2,2% of cases out of more than 96 shots taken until 4500.

mistral ATLAS on Arquus Sherpa vehicle Defense News | CIWS and SHORAD | Anti-aircraft defense
ATLAS turret on Arquus Sherpa light armored vehicles.

The Mistral 3, or F3, in service in the French armed forces, but also Estonian, can be implemented by an autonomous station allowing firing in 30 seconds, as well as on various vehicles and systems, such as the ATLAS system allowing equip a light vehicle with 2 Mistral missiles ready to fire and a digitally controlled firing station, or the SADRAL system offering capabilities similar to combat ships. The precision of the missile and its reactivity make it a system particularly suited to combating drones or UAVs, as well as against cruise or anti-ship missiles, if applicable.

We can wonder about the economic equation consisting of using a missile costing €300.000 to eliminate a drone costing only €50.000 or €100.000 to the adversary. But in this area, it is not material attrition that is sought, but the elimination of the potential threat represented by the UAV by transmitting precise positions of allied forces, making it possible, for example, to guide missile fire. artillery, or air strikes, or even more prosaically, to direct the adversary's maneuver to take advantage of the weaknesses of the allied system.

Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian CIWS Euronaval 2016 news 1 Defense News | CIWS and SHORAD | Anti-aircraft defense
The Rapid Sea Gardian turret from Thales uses the 40 CTAS cannon from Nexter. Associated with the Mistral Mistral 3, this device could represent an excellent basis for the development of a European SHORAD.

MBDA's Mistral 3 undoubtedly offers an excellent platform to the French BITD to design a SHORAD close air defense system capable of supporting forces on the battlefield. Associated with Nexter's RapidFire system and its 40 CTAS cannon, and possibly 2 or 4 MICA VL or VT1 to engage targets in the 7-20 km band, the Mistral 3 would offer a high-performance anti-aircraft platform as well against aircraft, cruise missiles, helicopters and drones, i.e. all the threats to be addressed by a modern SHORAD. Concerning to the crying need expressed by all European armies for such a system, one may wonder why the French BITD has not yet embarked on this project, before the United States placed their IM-SHORAD with hours much lower than all their traditional European customers?

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