MBDA successfully completed the first qualification firing trial for the SEA VENOM/ANL anti-ship missile in France on 20 February, marking a further significant milestone in the Anglo-French programme.
The missile was launched from a DAUPHIN helicopter at close to minimum release height, reaching its cruise phase whilst sea-skimming at very low altitude. During its terminal phase, the aircrew used images from the infrared seeker – transmitted through the datalink – to perform a successful manual aim-point refinement. The missile then followed the designated point, hitting the target with a very high degree of accuracy.
The latest firing builds on two previous events that have tested the missile to the very edge of its capability. The previous firings demonstrated the system’s lock on after launch (LOAL) and lock on before launch (LOBL) capabilities, also validating low-altitude sea-skimming flight and its autonomous guidance capability using images from the uncooled imaging infrared (IIR) seeker.
SEA VENOM/ANL is a purpose-built anti-ship missile for the French and British navies’ shipborne helicopters. It is suitable for a wide range of platforms, able to safely engage hostile vessels amongst civilian assets, even in congested littoral environments, defeating a broad spectrum of targets including small fast-moving craft through to larger ships – at sea or in port – as well as coastal land targets. The Royal Navy will operate SEA VENOM on the AW159 WILDCAT, replacing SEA SKUA: the Marine Nationale will mount it on its future GUÉPARD light helicopter.
“SEA VENOM/ANL is the first Anglo-French co-operation programme to take full advantage of our centres of excellence, created following an inter-governmental agreement ratified by both nations’ Parliaments in 2016. MBDA is putting full effort into the successful implementation of the SEA VENOM/ANL programme, recognising it should exemplify the benefits of the close co-operation [the] UK and France are sharing in defence – enhancing both nation’s sovereign capabilities in armaments while reducing costs,” commented Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO.