MBDA has conducted the second test firing of a new bunker-busting warhead under a bilateral technology demonstration programme (TDP) involving France and the UK.

The hard and deeply buried target next-generation multiple warhead system - "Hardbut" - was tested using a rocket-powered sled at France's Biscarrosse test range on 14 September.

Following on from a trial conducted in May, the test used a representative airframe resembling MBDA's Scalp-EG/Storm Shadow cruise missile design.

"A live precursor charge was detonated just in front of the massive concrete target and the inert follow-through bomb [FTB] penetrated through and exited the rear face of the target," the European company says. The weapon demonstrated "a penetration capability significantly in excess of any warhead currently produced by MBDA," it adds.

 Hardbut - MBDA

"The MBDA team has now twice successfully demonstrated the performance of this new warhead design by perforation of massive concrete targets, together with successful recovery of the inert FTB and ruggedised electronic in-line fuze."

With work having proved the warhead concept, the company says "a third and final proving trial will conclude the TDP research objectives", but has not disclosed the planned date.

Prime contractor MBDA UK says the design is intended to defeat hardened targets such as "command and control facilities, infrastructure and underground facilities including caves".

Jointly managed by the French and UK defence procurement agencies, the project also involves BAE Systems, Fluid Gravity Engineering, Qinetiq and fuze developer Thales Missile Electronics.

BAE Systems and EADS each have 37.5% stakes in MBDA, with the remaining 25% owned by Finmeccanica.

Source: Flight International