MBDA’s Sea Venom/ANL missile in successful first qualification firing

MBDA has announced that it has successfully carried out the first qualification firing trial of the Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile, which it described as “another significant milestone for the Anglo-French co-operation programme”.

The European company said in a news release that missile was launched from a Dauphin helicopter at the DGA Essais de missiles (DGA EM) test site off the island of Ile Du Levant near southern France on 20 February 2020, with the launch carried out “close to the minimum release height”.

Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: “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 UK and France are sharing in defence – enhancing both nation’s sovereign capabilities in armaments while reducing costs.”

The missile then reached its cruise phase whilst sea skimming at very low height. 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 has then followed this designated point until it struck its target, which appears to be a moving target ship with shipping containers representing the target.

MBDA adds that this latest firing builds on two previous ones that have all tested the missile to the very edge of its capability. The previous firings demonstrated Sea Venom/ANL’s lock on after launch (LOAL) and lock on before launch (LOBL) capabilities. They also validated its low-altitude sea-skimming flight and its autonomous guidance capability using images from its uncooled imaging infrared (IIR) seeker.

Sea Venom/ANL is a purpose-built anti-ship missile for the French and UK navies’ shipborne helicopters, and is suitable for a wide range of platforms. MBDA claims that it is designed to “safely engage hostile vessels amongst civilian assets, even in congested littoral environments and will defeat 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 UK Royal Navy will use Sea Venom/ANL on its AW159 Wildcat, replacing Sea Skua, while France’s Marine Nationale will operate the missile from its future Guépard Light Joint Helicopter (HIL – Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger).

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