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MBDA unveils upgraded VL MICA anti-air missile

VL MICA missile
MBDA file photo of a VL MICA missile

French missile specialist MBDA has introduced a new version of the VL MICA system which has been developed primarily with the integration onto the Rafale aircraft in mind.

Based on the existing VL MICA, the MICA NG (new generation) anti-air missile offers improved capabilities to handle atypical targets, such as UAVs and small aircraft, as well as future threats, characterized by increasingly low observable infrared and radio frequency signatures.

“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 to market its integration into VL MICA ground-to-air or surface-to-air defense systems,” MBDA CEO Eric Béranger said. “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.”

Another improvement that the new missile brings is the capability to intercept at longer distances 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 missiles, enabling current VL MICA systems to be upgraded to VL MICA NG standard by simple software updates.

MBDA says the new generation missile is based on an entirely new design, with a new infrared seeker based on a matrix sensor that will provide increased sensitivity. The missile also has a new radio frequency seeker with an active electronically scanned antenna (AESA). The missile 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.

What is more, a 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.

In surface-to-air mode, the MICA NG will be able to intercept targets over 40 km away.

MBDA notes that the new missile will be available in series production from 2026.