At EURONAVAL Online this week, MBDA is announcing the commercial launch of its new VL MICA NG air defence system.
Based on integrating the MICA NG [new generation] missile into the existing VL MICA system, which has so far been adopted by 15 armed forces globally, the new system will offer enhanced potential to counter future threats. MICA NG was launched in 2018, primarily to equip France’s RAFALEs.
“After two years of development on the New Generation MICA missile, we have acquired a deep understanding of the performance of this brand-new air-to-air missile which allows us, in full confidence, to market its integration into VL MICA ground-to-air or surface-to-air defence systems. The total compatibility between the two generations of missile will allow armed forces to combine them with their existing systems, thus maximizing their return on investments,” explained MBDA CEO, Eric Béranger.
VL MICA NG system offers improved capabilities to handle atypical targets, such as UAS or small aircraft, as well as future threats, characterised by increasingly low observable infrared and radio frequency signatures. Additionally, it will be able to intercept – at greater ranges – the conventional targets (aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles) already addressed by the current VL MICA system.
The dimensions of the MICA NG munition remain unchanged, allowing it to be integrated into existing VL MICA launchers. The existing missile data link mechanisms are compatible with the increased kinematic performance of the missile, enabling current VL MICA systems to be upgraded to VL MICA NG standard through simple software updates.
Based on an entirely new design, the MICA NG missile inherits the external dimensions and unique concept that has made the MICA anti-air missile such a success for a quarter of a century. This concept means MICA features either an IR or an RF seeker on the same common missile body, allowing the operator, at the moment of firing, to select the best option to respond to the tactics adopted by the adversary.
On the MICA NG, a new IR seeker based on a matrix sensor will provide increased sensitivity, while a new RF seeker with an active electronically scanned antenna (AESA) will allow for smart detection strategies. The lower volume of electronic components will enable MICA NG to carry a larger propellant load, significantly extending its range, and the new dual-pulse rocket motor will provide additional energy to the missile at the end of its flight, improving manoeuvrability and long-range intercept ability. In surface-to-air mode, MICA NG will be able to intercept targets over 40km away. Finally, maintenance and ownership costs will be significantly reduced, thanks to internal sensors that monitor munition status throughout its life cycle.