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The French defence innovation agency Agence de l’Innovation de Défense – AID) has selected a consortium led by MBDA to address its Larinae project, MBDA announced on 30 June 2023.

The Larinae initiative is intended to effect the rapid and collaborative development of a loitering munition capable of neutralising a hardened target out to a range of 50 km.

Following on from the success of the first Colibri call for projects from the AID, which a consortium comprising MBDA and NOVADEM was selected to address in March 2023, MBDA “has confirmed its position in the field of loitering munitions with the selection of its Mutant concept for the Larinae project”, the company said.

The Mutant concept is based on an agile, ‘minimum viable product’ approach to respond to the need for a rapid, innovative and sovereign solution for the French armed forces.

MBDA’s work on the Larinae project will benefit from self-financed work carried out by the company since 2022. (MIP/MBDA)

This new propelled and guided munition benefits from technologies developed by MBDA over many years, in particular with its Akeron missile family, to ensure very high levels of performance in neutralising armoured and mobile targets while guaranteeing operational reliability and complete safety.

Mutant also takes advantage of the latest technological advances in the field of civil and military UAVs to produce a loitering munition with the best cost/performance ratio, according to MBDA.

Designed as a true man-in-the-loop weapon system, Mutant will offer complementary capabilities to land-based missile systems in terms of targeting speed, manoeuvrability, endurance, range, saturating enemy defences and striking beyond line-of-sight.

In addressing the Larinae project, the MBDA-led consortium is following French Ministerial Instruction 1618, which allows it to work with the armed forces and the French Defence Procurement Agency (Direction générale de l’armement) DGA to define the best compromise between requirements and solutions, ensuring a rapid and effective response to the needs of the armed forces.

The demonstrations planned for 2024 under the Larinae contract will benefit from self-financed work carried out by MBDA since 2022, which has already enabled the first flights of the Mutant ‘Munition Télé-Opérée’ (or remotely controlled ammunition) in conjunction with unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer Delair.

Peter Felstead