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The Goldilocks Method: Shopping for a weapon that's just right

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    Allison Barrie

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    Allison Barrie

Where can you find just the right guided missile for hot and cold targets, disposable rocket launchers – or even the ultimate Silver Bullet?

Militaries from around the world converged on Paris for one-stop shopping at Eurosatory. There they have the chance to review products from more than 1,500 international vendors.

With thousands of options on display, military officials can have a look for weapons Goldilocks style: finding what’s too big, too small and what will be just right for their forces.

Here are three that were big reveals this year.

Looking for a Silver Bullet?
Precision attack is yours with BAE’s Silver Bullet.

Revealed for the first time at Eurosatory, the Silver Bullet is a 155-mm. artillery precision guidance system that actually self-corrects in flight.

Self-correcting its trajectory means an operator needs to only roughly aim -- meaning targets can be engaged accurately while reducing the time it takes to engage.

How does it work? Silver Bullet is a self-contained unit that screws into a 155-mm. artillery shell fuze well. While the rear portion of the tech spins with the shell, the forward part remains stable.

Their tech includes a multipurpose fuze with point, delay and proximity options. Fire correction is enabled by the moving canards mounted on the guidance section.

Guided shells tend to cost more than unguided rounds – and this is the case with the Silver Bullet. However, in a time of limited military budgets, investing in fewer rounds to achieve the same effect of firing more unguided rounds makes a whole lot of sense. 

Silver Bullet precision also means artillery can engage targets that would typically require the significantly more expensive missiles and launch platforms.

How accurate is Silver Bullet? It is said to achieve better than 65-foot circular error probability.

This is most likely a very conservative estimate given recent testing, when more than 120 Silver Bullets achieved an average 5m CEP.

Silver Bullet is intended primarily for 155-mm./52-caliber weapons like the BAE Systems M777 Howitzer.

The latest guided missile for taking out hot and cold targets
MBDA showcased its new tactical missile, the MMP (Missile Moyenne Portée), at Eurosatory.

The MMP weapon weighs about 33 pounds and can be operated by dismounted forces using a firing post that weighs about 24 pounds.

At the missile’s tip, its seeker is dual-band (visible/uncooled IR) that can acquire hot and cold targets.

Once the seeker has been locked on the target, the MMP heads toward its target all by itself

Its fiber-optic link relays the seeker image back to the firing post, so forces can use the missile to engage targets hidden from the firing position as well.

The missiles’ warhead is designed as a tandem one -- that is, one that is capable of taking out armored and fortified targets such as bunkers or pillboxes.

It is designed to even take out highly protected combat vehicles equipped with the latest generation explosive reactive armor.

The missile can be launched from vehicles, as well with remote weapon stations.

MBDA demonstrated both the dismounted version and two configurations on vehicles: on a Nexter’s 40-mm. canon turret and on the MPCV.

MMP was adapted in response to feedback from French Army lessons learned in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.

In response, MBDA added the ability to safely fire the weapon from confined spaces.

Another innovation was providing the ability to engage targets in a ‘fire-and-forget’ way while still being about to supervise the engagement.

In 2017, the MMP will replace the French Army and Special Forces Milan and Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Looking for a disposable shoulder-launched rocket weapon?
Brass decked out in uniforms from around the globe flocked to Saab to learn more about their two new projectile variants for the AT4.

Saab’s current AT4 is already very popular, so much so that it has sold to more than fifteen countries.

The AT4 is a 84-mm. disposable shoulder-launched rocket system developed as a disposable version of the tech in the proven Carl-Gustaf reusable weapon.

The new advances add even more capabilities and puts company-level firepower into troops’ hands at the squad level.

Both innovations are based on the AT4CS – another popular model that can be fired from confined spaces.  Its tech baffles and slows the firing pressure wave by using water mass.

The new AT4CS ER version uses a HEAT warhead and extends the anti-armor range from approximately 984 feet to 1,968 feet.

The second advance is the AT4CS HE. This version uses a high-explosive antipersonnel weapon with an effective range of up to 3280 feet.  The operator has a choice of impact or airburst modes and can fire in either.

All versions use the same disposable launcher with its easy to use flip-up sight.  For night vision compatibility, it can also be fitted with a rangefinder and a red dot sight.