MBDA Italia conducted the first live launch of its MARTE-ER (Extended Range) medium range anti-ship missile on 9 November, from an undisclosed Italian test range.
Together, MARTE-ER and MARTE Mk. 2 provide operators with a family of missiles that have significant commonality. Both feature a programmable attack final height capacity and advanced electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) capabilities; they also share the same seeker basket, the same 70kg semi-armour-piercing warhead and the same active RF radar seeker.
The ER model is the over-the-horizon variant, available in three subversions: N/G (naval or ground applications); H/C (for helicopters), and F/J (fast jet). The weapon is sufficiently flexible that each version can be transformed into another by simply changing minor hardware components (e.g.: boosters in the N/G version, suspension lugs in the H/C and F/J versions), with the missile’s main body remaining physically the same.
The main differences in the ER version, compared with the well-known Mk.2/S, are the turbojet engine, the combined INS/GPS guidance system and the capacity for setting up to three 3D waypoints instead of two. Furthermore, the missile weight has grown by 15kg to 330kg, within a slightly reduced 3.6m lenth (from 3.85). With a range of action in excess of 100km, MARTE-ER allows for day/night stand-off engagements in all weather conditions. Mission planning and reaction times are fast enough for both direct attack and patrol missions, capacities that have been specifically tested during trials with the Eurofighter TYPHOON. Despite the limited size of the warhead, MARTE-ER missiles can be deadly, especially in salvoes of up to six missiles at a time, in which case they can be coordinated for ‘time on target’ if desired. Subjected to such an attack, MBDA believes smaller vessels would be destroyed, while larger surface combatants would suffer heavy damage.
Qatar has selected MARTE-ER for its coastal batteries, which also MBDA France’s MM-40 Block3 EXOCET anti-ship missiles, and for its 12 NH-90NFH. Kuwait has selected the missile for its TYPHOONs. The missile could also be of interest to current operators of the MARTE Mk.2 ,as well as for new customers in the Middle East.