MBDA launches the new VL MICA NG

Launch of a VL MICA from a ship. MBDA

SHAH ALAM: MBDA announces the commercial launch of its new VL MICA NG air defence system, on the occasion of the Euronaval-Online exhibition on 19 October.The VL MICA NG system is based on the integration into the existing VL MICA system of the MICA NG (New Generation) anti-air missile, which began development in 2018 primarily to equip France’s Rafale combat aircraft.

The VL MICA system family – now adopted, in its naval or land-based versions, by 15 armed forces around the world – will consequently benefit from enhanced potential to counter future threats.

VL MICA by MBDA

About the VL MICA NG system, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: “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.”
VL Mica firing

Thanks to the technological innovations it incorporates, the new VL MICA NG system offers improved capabilities to handle atypical targets (UAVs, 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 longer distances the ‘conventional’ targets (aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles) already addressed by the current VL MICA system.
RC MICA

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 missiles, enabling current VL MICA systems to be upgraded to VL MICA NG standard by simple software updates.
Launch of a VL MICA from a ship. MBDA

About the MICA NG missile

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 infrared or a radio frequency 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.

VL Mica shipboard container. MBDA

On the MICA NG, a new infrared seeker based on a matrix sensor will provide increased sensitivity, while a new radio frequency seeker with an active electronically scanned antenna (AESA) will allow for smart detection strategies. The lower volume of electronic components will enable the MICA NG to carry a larger load of propellant, 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 its manoeuvrability and its ability to intercept targets at long range. In surface-to-air mode, the MICA NG will be able to intercept targets over 40 km away. Finally, maintenance and ownership costs will be significantly reduced thanks to internal sensors that will monitor the status of the munition throughout its life cycle.

The MICA NG missile will be available in series production from 2026.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

23 Comments

  1. Basically, an operator only need to buy the missile without any upgrade on the system.

    Range 40km….

    Not bad….not bad at all. Better than aster 15.

  2. At last the Mica NG, RMN should equipped this missiles into our new Maharaja Lela class multi mission Frigates. As for Jebat class, recommend Sea Captor CAMM ER to replaced Sea Wolf….

  3. Basically the MICA NG has the pulsed rocket motor, rather than the continuous burn rocket motor of the current missile. The pulsed operation increases the burn time, thus increasing the range. So now the MICA NG can be considered a medium range missile (with similar or better range to the aster 15, in MBDA literature more than 40km, with ESSM as the benchmark), rather than just the short range missile it was before, while maintaining the same size.

    Now on our naval and ground air defence in relation to this new missile.

    Probably it is an unexpected advantage for us to still has not bought the air defence missiles for the ill-fated Gowind programme.

    IMO getting either the MICA NG or the CAMM (with the disadvantage of a shorter range but a missile that is system agnostic, can be used with any systems) would be good for our frigates, with the same missile to be also bought for GAPU Jernas replacement.

    For the range, yes VL MICA NG would have the upper hand. This would also vindicate the choice for VL MICA in lieu of the ESSM preferred originally by TLDM, now the VL MICA NG has the same range.

    Now the next question. We have heard that BND has put a price of about RM12 billion to complete all 6 Gowinds, with unknown deadline for it. Is that worth it? Can we even afford batch 2 of the Gowinds?

    http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/newsbreak-boustead-seeks-more-funds-complete-rm9-bil-lcs-project

    IMO we need at least 9 ASW frigates of the same design, to have at least 3 at sea at all times. Then post 2030 another 4 larger multi purpose frigates to be our flagship to replace both Lekiu and Kasturi classes.

  4. Probably it is also the right time for us to reconsider equipping our Su-30MKM with MICA NG, as it is now a missile with similar range of the RVV-AE. It was originally dropped due to cost consideration.

    http://www.flightglobal.com/malaysia-and-sukhoi-pick-su-30mkm-suppliers/59138.article

    IAF recently (August 2020) successfully tested the launch of MICA from their own Su-30MKI
    http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2020/aug/19/iaf-test-fires-air-to-air-missiles-ahead-of-rafale-integration-2185422.html

    We can actually have a potent MRCA capability even with our current MKMs, while putting our money in LCAs to enable our airforce to afford to undertake fundamental taskings like regular air patrols and 24/7/365 QRA sentry, which has been neglected for so long now.

  5. A silver lining to the delayed purchase of VL MICA. Now we should restart the MICA purchase by getting the MICA NG instead.

  6. 12bil for 6 lcs? No thank you..their initial ceiling price were already absurd now they wanna make it to RM2 bill pership..lol…we are going into circle with this debacle

  7. Thanks for those beautiful photos of KD Perak and HMAS Arunta.

    Hey Marhalim, didn’t I say 2 years ago I suspected the TLDM was waiting for the Mica NG? Good news I suppose but remember the NG won’t be available till 2026!

  8. “At last the Mica NG, RMN should equipped this missiles into our new Maharaja Lela class multi mission Frigates. As for Jebat class, recommend Sea Captor CAMM ER to replaced Sea Wolf….”

    Good that MICA in another 6years have incoming new version NG, maybe MBDA have new upgrades for CAMM too by that time, who knows.

    New SAM is IMHO at very bottom of MAF “shopping list”. Till now no firm decision on MICA, high probality Maharajalela sail off without its SAM. Whether Maharajalela sail off or not is also currently a big if.

  9. @ nimitz

    Our world is rapidly changing. We need to have a capable 2A/AD capability, at sea, in the air, and on land. Need to strengthen our capability to counter cruise missiles, UAVs and such. We need to invest more in our air defence to counter these emerging threats.

  10. …. – “reconsider equipping our Su-30MKM with MICA NG, as it is now a missile with similar range of the RVV-AE”

    If indeed we go down this route it will be because Mica offers overall superior capabilities compared to the R-77. We have no idea which missile has a more “lethal” “no escape zone” capability when in the terminal phase but we know that unlike the R-77; Mica has a mid course guidance capability and that MBDA has been conducting active R&D to improve Mica.

    Vympel on the other hand hasn’t introduced much (if any) in terms of upgrading the R-77’s capabilities since it first gained widespread operational service with China and India; followed by Russia and others. There’s been talk (like there was in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s about a ramjet version) about an improved variant and even a successor but we haven’t seen it yet.

  11. MICA NG will also be smaller and lighter than the R-77, while having the similar range. That will enable the MKM to carry more missiles, or be much more nimbler with lighter loads.

    Plenty of upgrade path we can now choose for the MKM. Some of them are

    – MICA NG

    – Laser guided bomb kit for QFAB250-LG from Aselsan Turkey
    http://cdnb.artstation.com/p/assets/images/images/015/854/067/large/ozcan-ozaltin-8c41310a-8b65-4f52-8871-4d37faade16a-original.jpg

    – Glide bomb kit QFAB100-SAB
    https://army-tech.net/forum/index.php?attachments/fab-100-jpg.47442/

    – Roketsan SOM
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/92/SOM_cruise_missile_mockup_on_MSPO_2014.jpeg/1280px-SOM_cruise_missile_mockup_on_MSPO_2014.jpeg

    – Brahmos NG (smaller than the normal brahmos)
    http://images.kienthuc.net.vn/uploaded/tuananh/2019_02_21/bt/sau-su-30mki-an-do-se-mang-ten-lua-brahmos-len-mig-29-hinh-5.jpg

    – DAMOCLES pod upgrade

    – BARS radar upgrade

    – AL-41F-1S engine (4000 hours engine life and more powerful)

    – Thales scorpion HMD (same as MD530G and spanish hornets)

  12. I wonder if it’s better to just go Meteor if we’re going to replace R77. I think the Indians are in the process of intergrating the Meteor on their MKI, are they? Correct me if I am wrong.

  13. If VL MICA NG is available for land defence, can it be containerised in a 20ft cargo box? IMHO the flexibility of such arrangements can be immense as GBAD AAM launcher can be done cheaply on commercial trailer truck, and also such container modules could be integrated to LMS module bay creating a cheap AAW ship with guidance slewed in by Maharajalelas or AWACS/AEW or perhaps even by MKMs.

    Reply
    Yes its available in the TEL configuration but not in a containerised version as you envisaged

  14. Tom Tom – “ if it’s better to just go Meteor if we’re going to replace R77”

    Whatever the missile is; if we get it to replace the R-77 it will be because it offers better overall capabilities. Range will be a vital consideration but it will only be part of the equation. To take a long range shot one has to first detect a target; which might have ‘lo” features and will be doing its best to stay out of range or to try to remain undetected for as long as possible.

    Also, the longer the range is when a missile is fired; the more reaction time the target has. Jamming can also reduce a missile’s ability to take a long range shot.

  15. … – “MICA NG will also be smaller and lighter than the R-77”

    There is the question of which type has a longer service life – both when stored in and away from conditions specified by the OEM and when actually flown (flying with missiles eats into their hours).

    I have no idea about Western missiles but Russians ones come in a yellow protective wrapping. Missiles are intended to be stored and placed back into the wrapping after being flown.

  16. @ azlan

    ” There is the question of which type has a longer service life ”

    Which is why we rarely hang those active missiles.

    But for QRA missions, we need to equip them with at least one active AAM.

    Anyway this is the details for AIM-9X
    http://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a614730.pdf

    Looks like it has a planned shelf life of 20 years, and a targeted on wing time between failures of around 800 hours. Seems not to have any maximum on wing hour limits. MICA seems to have a planned shelf life of 25 years (Taiwan air force info). No idea of Russian missiles, regarding their on the shelf life or on wing hour limits.

    After their planned shelf life is achieved, it can be refurbished. Mostly done by the replacement of their solid fuel rocket motors.

  17. … – “Which is why we rarely hang those active missiles.”

    Which is why everyone does the same and why there are training rounds that can mimic or duplicate an actual missile.

    … – “But for QRA missions, we need to equip them with at least one active AAM“”

    Depends entirely on the circumstances. If we’re on heightened alert during a state of tensions with a neighbour; yes. If it’s a normal peacetime environment and we’re mostly expecting genuine cases of commercial aircraft going off their schedules route; maybe not.

    …. – “Mostly done by the replacement of their solid fuel rocket motors”

    The first to go is normally the propellent and circuitry; missile’s can only reworked on so many times. There comes a point where the OEM won’t touch it anymore – it can still be worked on via other means but without the OEMs approval or if something goes wrong: assistance.

    Ukrainian supplied AAMs on planes flown by Ukrainian pilots during the Ethiopia/Eritrea war had a high failure rate because they had passed their specified shelf lives. In the other hands other missiles in a similar state performed as advertised. The Iranians kept their Phoenix’s operational well into the late 1990’s when they should have been long retired.

    … – “MICA seems to have a planned shelf life of 25 years (Taiwan air force info)”

    That is a paper estimate assuming it’s stored as specified by the OEM; same goes with small arms/arty ammo and explosives. Direct sunlight and humidity/moisture levels plays a huge part. The problem comes when operating in the field for extended periods or in alternate bases/strips.

  18. “but not in a containerised version as you envisaged”
    Ahh, I see. Hopefully that could change once there are more buyers of VL MICA NG. Perhaps then the flexibility of using civvie sized container modules could be a real option.

  19. @Tom Tom

    “Apparently the NG already has an (undisclosed) launch customer…….let’s hope it the TLDM.”

    Reply:
    Unfortunately the launch customer is more likely to be Egypt

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