The new air launched lightweight anti-ship MBDA SEA VENOM missile is completing qualification process ahead of an expected delivery to the first customer, the Royal Navy, in 2020. The missile, developed under a joint programme between France and UK, is intended to replace SEA SKUA
missiles in the Royal Navy and AS-17 TT in the French Navy. During 2016 major milestones were reached including air-carriage and jettison trials that were successfully carried out from a French Navy PANTHER helicopter used as test bed and now he missile has started the integration process with a LYNX Mk8 helicopter.
SEA VENOM can equip a large range of platforms as PANTHER, LYNX, SUPER LYNX and NH90. The first helicopter to receive the new weapon system will be the AW-159 WILDCAT which can be equipped with four missiles installed at new twin launchers under the sponsons. It is worth underlying that a helicopter can also employ the salvo of four missiles contrary to what it's experienced with the SEA SKUA which can be only used one at a time.
SEA VENOM is 110kg and has a 30kg warhead with semi-armour piercing, blast and fragmentation effects. The range is in excess of 20km and the maximum speed is 0.85 Mach. SEA VENOM has an IR seeker and man in the loop control mechanism thanks to an RF two way data link providing a pinpoint precision and the possibility to safely abort the mission. Accordingly the SEA VENOM is particularly suited to be employed in asymmetrical context with a dense presence of ships and when it's necessary to have a maximum discrimination rate between many potential targets. The preferred targets are the so called FIACs (Fad Inshore Attach Craft), but the missile can be also used against larger ships in order to disable some key parts – radar antennas, other sensors, weapon systems etc. - without sinking them.