France has selected multinational missile manufacturer MBDA to equip its future fleet of Eurodrone unmanned aircraft systems with Akeron LP air-to-ground missiles.
The Akeron missiles (previously known as Missile Haut de Trame) will complement the GBU-49 precision-guided bombs as the drone’s weapons package.
Described as a “unique” family of fifth-generation tactical missiles, the Akeron features a multi-effect warhead that can handle a variety of targets, including modern battle tanks and hardened combat infrastructure.
It has a two-way data link that sends high-resolution images to operators through the missile’s infrared optronic seeker, allowing them to choose a point of impact or select a new target in flight.
Additionally, the Akeron has a “fire-and-forget” missile and can effectively hit targets at a maximum range of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).
“The missiles of the Akeron family meet current and future operational needs for dismounted combat as well as from land, air, and even naval platforms,” MBDA stated on its website. “They are also ideal for integration into the digital environment of the battlefield, and suited for collaborative combat.”
Once integrated, the Eurodrone will become France’s second aerial military platform to be equipped with the Akeron missiles after the Airbus Tiger Mk III attack helicopters.
The Eurodrone is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system (UAS) with a wingspan of 30 meters (98 feet) and a length of 16.4 meters (53 feet).
It has a maximum takeoff weight of eleven tons (9,979 kilograms/22,000 pounds) and can fly at altitudes of around 13,500 meters (8.4 miles).
The drone is equipped with signals intelligence systems, as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance payloads.
The UAS is the product of a collaborative agreement among Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.
It features an open architecture design to allow Paris and other countries to integrate desired weapons and payloads.
“It will give Europe its own unparalleled competencies in the field of UAS, offering advanced strategic performance capabilities,” manufacturer Airbus stated.