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Vertical Launch Mica

The Vertical Launch Mica is a new short-range air defence system that has no equivalent anywhere in the world. It was designed to counter threats of saturating attacks by aircraft or missiles. It was designed by the French and British engineers of Matra BAe Dynamics to meet an operational need that had hitherto not been met. On 22 February 2000, during a press conference that opened the Asian Aerospace 2000 exhibition in Singapore, Matra BAe Dynamics made its first presentation of the short-range air defence system, Vertical Launch Mica. VL MICA development was launched in 2005, benefiting from French DGA (Dlgation Gnrale pour lArmement) funding within the SALVE Program and was achieved with the support of the French Armed Forces. In 2007 the Royal Navy of Oman ordered both Exocet and VL Mica Systems to equip its three new Khareef OPVs (Offshore Patrol Vessel). MBDA had a longstanding partnership with the Sultanate of Oman and has already equipped the SAF (Sultanate Armed Forces) with Mistral land based air defence systems for the Royal Army, Milan anti-armour for the Royal Guard and the Royal Army, Rapier air defence system for the Air Force, and Exocet missile system for the Royal Navy. Following an international competition launched in 2007, the VL MICA short-range air defence system, in its ground-based configuration, won Oman as its first export customer order on 16 June 2009. This success reinforces that already achieved by the naval variant of VL MICA which had already been ordered by two export customers. On 24 September 2012, the Royal Guard of Oman (RGO) successfully carried out the first operational firing of a VL MICA missile. The firing, using the RGOs own VL MICA Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) system, took place at the Abeer test range located in the center of the Sultanate of Oman in the presence of the highest political and military authorities in Oman. The VL MICA GBAD system, delivered to the RGO by MBDA and operating in stand-alone mode under the control of its own Tactical Operation Centre, detected the target with its 3D radar (TRML3D supplied by EADS Cassidian). This operational exercise saw the 19th successful firing of a VL MICA missile. VL MICA has not had a single firing failure since the beginning of its development trials in 2003. Significantly, the RGO firing marked the first ever operational use of the land-based VL MICA system by an export customer. Before VL Mica, there was no short-range air defence (SHORAD) fire and forget system capable of providing all weather self-defence against multiple and simultaneous air attacks from combat aircraft, anti-ship or air-surface stand-off missiles. The system can be easily integrated (in particular to naval platforms) and can be procured without any development risks, at a cost that is in line with the defence budgets of most countries. Unlike the SHORAD systems currently in use, the Vertical Launch Mica makes it possible to simultaneously engage multiple targets regardless of weather or electronic warfare conditions or to take countermeasures with a total coverage over 360. These performances can only be obtained by using an all-weather fire and forget missile fitted with a thrust vector control (TVC) system. This feature, which is unique for a missile in this category, allows vertical launching and therefore a very short reaction time, a high shooting rate (less than two seconds between two firings) and easy integration to platforms, without costly dedicated sensor and guidance suite. The Vertical Launch Mica uses the air-to-air Mica missiles that are particularly well protected in an electronic warfare environment. They are completely autonomous after firing since the main part of the guidance system is on-board and uses an active radar homing head (Mica EM) or infrared imaging (Mica IR, only for naval version). The Mica Vertical Launch System is a very simple one, using radar and optronic surveillance resources that are already installed on the platform to be protected (ship, airfield, etc.) to provide the missile with its target designation. This is the only information that is indispensable before firing. The Vertical Launch Mica was designed using state of the art high technologies but already in mass production in order to eliminate all development-related risks. These technologies include Mica EM and Mica IR missiles (in production since 1996 and 2000 respectively), a vertical launching capacity already validated by several Mica ground-to-air firings, the mass-produced VL Seawolf modular container launcher fully compatible with the Mica. With the possibility of naval and ground applications, the Vertical Launch Mica will enable New MBD to present a comprehensive range of surface-to-air systems that will be able to meet the requirements of all operational use concepts. The VSHORAD (very short range air defence) Mistral and its systems for the three forces SHORAD(short range air defence) - Multi-target fire-and-forget: the VL Mica for the three forces - Command to line of sight (CLOS) guidance: the VL Seawolf for the Navy, Jernas and Roland for Air Defence MRAD(medium/long range air defence / ATBM capability)Aster missile based systems for the three forces. Aerospatiale Matra, British Aerospace and Finmeccanica signed an agreement on 20th October 1999 to establish a single company in the field of missiles and missile systems. It will comprise the following businesses: - Matra BAe Dynamics (currently 50% AEROSPATIALE MATRA and 50% BAE SYSTEMS), -Aerospatiale Matra Missiles (100% AEROSPATIALE MATRA) -Alenia Marconi Systems (50% FINMECCANICA and 50% BAE SYSTEMS) for missiles and missile systems. This joint venture will reinforce the companys position as the world's No. 2 in the missile sector and will generate approximately 2.5 billion euros (more than 1.5 billion) annual sales. With the skills of its 10,000 employees and almost 4 years of orders on the books, it will be prime contractor or main partner for all of the major programmes developed on a European cooperative basis. Today the self-defence of surface vessels is based on short-range (generally 10 km) missile systems that are mostly remote-controlled from the ship or with semi-active guidance. And in both cases, these systems can engage only one target at a time (or 2 if there were two firing radars). On most frigates, except anti-aircraft ones with an area air defence system, the self-defence system and the main anti-aircraft system are one and the same. In these conditions, it is vital that the system be able to counter anti-aircraft threats in all forms (aircraft and missiles). Todays air threats are increasingly sudden (late detection in a coastal environment for example, or stealthy or very fast) and based on a saturation effect (simultaneous attacks from different directions). None of the short-range systems that are currently in service can provide a satisfactory solution to such a threat in terms of the survivability of the ship, especially as regards saturation. The only system that can counter this evolving threat is one that meets the criteria below: - all weather capability, - fire-and-forget capability (multi-target), - very short reaction time, - vertical launching to allow azimuth defence, - the non deterioration of the stealth of modern boats. On the basis of this analysis and in order to complete its portfolio of anti-aircraft defence systems (of which Aster ordered by British, Italian and French navies is the flagship), Matra BAe Dynamics offered the possibility of using the Mica missile as a surface-to-air missile. It is true that the Mica air-to-air missile, already selected by several countries, presents the advantage of all weather, multi-target and fire-and-forget capacities that have been largely proven on different combat aircraft. The launching system is modular, it includes : Launching containers (mechanically individually installed) with high installation flexibility. Sequencer (power supply and processing unit). One operator console generally part of the Combat Management System of the ship. The Vertical Launch Mica system is therefore ideally positioned between VSHORAD (Sadral, Simbad) and medium-range (Aster) systems. It will thereby complete the range of systems offered by New MBD in order to ensure the anti-aircraft protection of surface ships. As for the self defence of surface vessels, the Vertical Launch Mica will also protect vital ground assets and moving units. Together with light and very short-range systems (VSHORADs), SHORADs form the backbone of the future anti-aircraft defence. To complete its offering of surface-to-air systems that is mainly composed of light systems based on Mistral missiles, Jernas SHORADS and heavy medium-range systems with ATBM potential capability like Aster SAMP/T, New MBD proposed the Vertical Launch Mica. Using the available surface-to-air acquisition means in the zone to be protected, the VL Mica will provide a veritable all weather, multi-target capability that will be unlimited because of its vertical launch configuration. It will provide very low altitude as well as medium altitude coverage against saturating air attacks as well as attacks from stand-off air-to-surface missiles and helicopters or target drones. With this new system, New MBD can now propose a complete range of surface-to-air systems from VSHORADs to MSAM with ATBM capability.

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