Let’s Delve into the Best of the Akeron MP ATGM

Designed for engaging and destroying enemy-armoured vehicles, Let’s Delve into the Best of the Akeron MP ATGM. It is a French 5th Generation, Network-Enabled, Anti-Tank Guided Missile System featuring advanced guidance systems such as Infrared homing and Television guidance. These systems allow the missile to accurately target and penetrate 1,000 mm of Rolled Homogeneous Armor (RHA) or 2,000 mm of concrete.

Photo Credit: MBDA France

The Akeron MP, developed by MBDA France, serves as a successor to both the MILAN and FGM-148 Javelin. Having entered into active service with the French military in 2017, this advanced system is tailored for dismounted infantry use and can be seamlessly integrated into combat vehicles or small-sized boats for sea-launched operations, boasting a firing range of up to 5 km.

With its versatile capabilities, including fire-and-forget and command guidance operating modes, the Akeron MP also integrates third-party target designation for indirect firing scenarios, utilizing a lock-on after-launch capability suitable for non-line-of-sight (NLOS) applications. Proven through operational testing in extreme climates such as deserts and sub-arctic conditions, the Akeron MP emerges as the ideal choice for soldiers facing abnormal situations.

Photo Credit: Laurent Guichardon/MBDA / Let’s Delve into the Best of the Akeron MP ATGM

Concept Behind the Development of Akeron MP Anti-Tank Guided Missile

After the war in Iraq and during operations in Afghanistan, man-portable missiles were often used against strong points and improvised armour within populated areas. Reducing collateral damage to nearby civilians became a major political factor in such campaigns, especially in the context of small-scale and counter-insurgency operations. Specific advancements over existing missiles, such as MILAN, aimed to ensure the safety of operators within confined spaces, with features like reduced backblast on launch. Additionally, improvements in guidance systems were implemented to target non-infrared (IR) cold targets, along with armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), while minimizing the risk of collateral damage.

The program originated in 2009 to develop a successor to MBDA’s forty-year-old MILAN. This initiative was primarily in response to a French operational requirement that had also prompted the acquisition of the US-made Javelin in 2010. Instead of procuring additional MILAN missiles, 260 Javelins were ordered due to the missile’s fire-and-forget capability.

Photo Credit: MBDA France

Therefore, based on the French Army’s desire for a versatile precision strike capability to equip both special operation troops and frontline units, MBDA initiated research and development in 2011. The missile should be capable of targeting both stationary and mobile ground targets, ranging from small cars to the newest generation of multi-beam trucks, as well as individuals who are either dismounted or sheltered behind walls. Ensuring the firing officer’s protection during battle features such as fire-and-forget guidance and the ability to launch the missile from limited areas were deemed necessary.

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Following an extensive research and development phase and in direct competition with industry leaders such as Lockheed Martin/Raytheon Javelin and Israeli Rafael Spike, the French DGA issued a substantial order in December 2013. This directive aimed to initiate the process of equipping the French Army with the Akeron MMP by the year 2017. It is noteworthy that the entire development program has been privately funded by MBDA, showcasing its commitment to innovation in military technology. The anticipated completion of this pioneering initiative is set for 2017.

Photo Credit: MBDA France / Vehicle-mounted Akeron-MP

Subsequently, comprehensive tests commenced in early 2014, including warhead tests against Main Battle Tank (MBT) armour. In April, further tests were conducted, featuring launches within a test tunnel. These tests were crucial in validating the missile’s safety for the operating crew, particularly in terms of mitigating potential risks associated with powerful back blasts.

The initial firing trial of the MMP took place in February 2015 under the supervision of the DGA, during which the missile accurately struck a fixed target at a range exceeding 4,000 meters. In November 2017, after a successful operational evaluation firing campaign led by the French Army, the DGA declared the delivery of the initial batch comprising 20 firing posts and 50 MMP missiles.

As of 2017, reports indicate that nearly 400+ launchers and 2,850 missiles have been procured for the French Armed Forces. Notably, the system’s advanced precision marks a significant milestone, as it replaces not only the MILAN and Javelin systems but also the existing Eryx and HOT missile systems in French service. Furthermore, it serves as armament for the EBRC Jaguar vehicles.

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Design Description of the Akeron MP Anti-Tank Guided Missile

The Akeron MP is designed as a precision-guided munition specifically engineered for engaging and neutralizing all types of armoured vehicles. The missile and its guidance system provide three distinct operating modes: Fire-and-Forget, Man In The Loop with an optical fibre data link, and Lock-on After Launch (LOAL) for non-line-of-sight (NLOS) scenarios, incorporating third-party target designation.

Guidance System: The Akeron MP utilizes advanced guidance systems for precise targeting. The infantry version’s firing post features a high-resolution infrared-cooled sensor and a daylight TV camera, supporting all-weather reconnaissance. A fibre optics data link relays seeker images for Man In The Loop control, allowing launch abort. For direct fires, the seeker automatically correlates with firing post images, simplifying lock-on, and includes a GPS receiver, compass, and optional laser range finder for net-centricity and target coordination through tactical data links.

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Photo Credit: MBDA France

Warhead: Equipped with a SAAB-designed HEAT warhead, the MMP weighs just over two kilograms (4.4 lb). Its 115 mm calibre multipurpose warhead features a tandem charge with two modes: anti-armour, penetrating over 1,000 millimetres (39 in) of RHA under ERA; and anti-infrastructure, breaching over two meters (6.6 ft) of concrete. Both modes include anti-personnel capabilities.

Propulsion System: The missile is expected to be propelled by a solid-fuel rocket motor featuring a two-phase thrust mechanism for rapid acceleration, ensuring a sustained high velocity during flight. This design prioritizes safe firing from confined spaces, minimizing both rearward and forward blast effects of the launcher. Interestingly, The missile can be launched with infantry in close proximity.

Photo Credit: French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA)

Launch Platforms: The Akeron MP system is designed for deployment from various platforms, including man-portable launchers and vehicle-mounted launchers for infantry. Alternatively, it can be easily integrated into small-sized fast patrol boats for sea-launched operations.

Range and Speed: Designed for long-range engagements with high speed to minimize the risk of interception by enemy defences, the missile has a range of 4 km (4,400 yd) based on a French requirement. In May 2018, two test firings were conducted, successfully hitting targets at 5 km (5,500 yd).

Photo MBDA France / Vehicle-Mounted Akeron-MP During Test Trials

Operational Advantages in the Maritime Domain

  • One munition with a multi-purpose capability
  • Various trajectories, for direct hit-to-top attack
  • Multiple firing modes
  • Always Utilizing a Firing Configuration Suitable for the Operational Context
  • Light Missile for Swift and Easy Sea Reloading
  • A simple kit for easy installation on all naval platforms, whether new or retrofit, including mast or existing remote weapon stations.
  • High precision against small and fast vessels, and static or fast-moving land targets, at all ranges

In February 2017, MBDA announced the commencement of a joint venture with the Indian conglomerate Larsen & Toubro. This venture aims to develop and supply fifth-generation anti-tank guided missiles, inspired by the MMP, to meet the requirements issued by the Indian Army. As of 2023, besides France, Egypt is the only international operator utilizing the system for the Egyptian Navy special forces. Negotiations are in progress with Qatar and Portugal, which might be the next potential operators.

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Photo MBDA France / A fantastic image of the Akeron-MP being fired from a fast-action boat during trials

Akeron MP Technical Specifications

  • Weight: Missile in canister: 15 kg (33 lb) each round in launch tube
  • Weight of Launcher System: 11 kg (24 lb) – Tripod, Firing Post, and Battery
  • Length:  4.3 ft (1.3 m) in the Tactical Canister
  • Diameter:  5.5 in ( 140 mm )
  • Warhead:  Tandem HEAT
  • Engine:  Solid-fuel rocket with two-phase thrust for an initial soft launch
  • Blast yield: Capable of penetrating 1,000 mm of Rolled Homogeneous Armor (RHA) and 2,000 mm of concrete.
  • Range:  min 150 meters to max 5 km with all modes & conditions, as of 2023
  • Data link: Real-time ( Fibre optics )
  • Launch Platform:  Man-portable launcher, Vehicle-launched, Sea-launched
Photo MBDA France / Akeron-MP Firing Demonstration for International Delegations at Canjuers Military Camp, France, on October 12th, 2018

In conclusion, the Akeron MP is envisioned as a precision-guided munition with advanced guidance, a potent warhead, and versatile deployment options. Its design likely prioritizes accuracy, range, and speed to effectively engage and neutralize armoured threats while incorporating 5th-gen technologies to enhance accuracy and survivability for the launching crew. As military technology continues to evolve, this ATGM remains at the forefront, providing armed forces with a potent and reliable solution for engaging a wide range of targets with unprecedented accuracy and lethality.

Photo MBDA France

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