The Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile has completed its qualification firings trials, with a successful final firing at the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) test site at Ile du Levant on 17 November.
Soon to start equipping the Royal Navy’s AW159 Wildcat and Marine nationale’s H160M Guépard shipborne helicopters, the Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile is a co-operation project developed under the Lancaster House treaty between France and the United Kingdom. The Sea Venom/ANL missile is the first programme to take full advantage of the cross-border centres of excellence on missile technologies launched by the Lancaster House treaty, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary this month.
The final qualification trial tested the missile’s advanced target discrimination within a complex and cluttered naval scenario.
Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «I want to congratulate the UK-French teams across both MBDA and our governments for the commitment they have shown in meeting this qualification milestone amid the disruption caused by Covid-19. Together they have proven that through co-operation we can jointly overcome adversity and deliver leading edge military capabilities».
Previous trials have tested the missiles launch envelope, release envelope and engagement modes, such as its low-altitude sea-skimming flight, Lock On After Launch (LOAL), Lock On Before Launch (LOBL), operator-in-the-loop, and aimpoint refinement.
MBDA has successfully carried out the first qualification firing trial of the Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile at the DGA Essais de missiles (DGA EM) test site at Ile Du Levant on 20 February 2020, another significant milestone for the Anglo-French co-operation programme.
The missile was launched from a Dauphin helicopter close to the minimum release height, reaching 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 hitting the target with a very high degree of accuracy.
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. It will 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.
Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «Sea Venom/ANL is the first Anglo-French co-operation programme to take full advantage of our centres of excellence, created following an Inter-Governmental Agreement ratified by both nations’ Parliaments in 2016. 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 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).
MBDA’s Sea Venom/ANL (Anti-Navire Léger) missile has successfully completed its second development firing from a French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA – Direction Générale de l’Armement) Panther test helicopter at Ile Du Levant in southeast France.
The firing, which took place on 18 April 2018, highlighted Sea Venom/ANL’s Lock On After Launch (LOAL) capabilities. It also validated its aptitude for low-altitude, sea-skimming flight, the effectiveness of the data link between the missile and helicopter and Sea Venom/ANL’s autonomous guidance capability, using images from its infrared seeker.
Guto Bebb, UK Minister for Defence Procurement, said: «Sea Venom is yet another weapon that will help our Royal Navy keep the United Kingdom safe amid intensifying global threats. The lightweight subsonic sea-skimming missile, which will equip our Wildcat helicopters, will add to our Navy’s impressive capabilities while at sea and ensure they remain equipped to face every eventuality. The test firing partnership between France and the United Kingdom is also another fantastic display of the two nations working together to protect global waters».
Frank Bastart, head of the Sea Venom/ANL programme at MBDA said: «We’re delighted that the second development firing of Sea Venom/ANL was a complete success. We have now tested a range of the missile’s capabilities and it has performed to the very edge of its operational envelope, which is testament to the hard work and skills of our development and production teams in conjunction with DGA. This is a significant milestone in the development of the missile and when it enters service Sea Venom/ANL will provide a major increase in capability to the UK and French navies».
Sea Venom/ANL is part of an Anglo-French programme linked to the Lancaster House treaty agreed between the UK and France in November 2010 and possesses a «fire and forget» mode along with ‘operator above the loop’ capability to maintain control over the entire missile trajectory. It has been designed for use from the widest range of platforms; in UK service the missile will be used from the AW159 Wildcat helicopter, while France will operate the missile from its future Light Joint Helicopter (HIL – Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger). The missile is designed to enable the helicopters of both countries’ navies to deal with a range of threats including fast moving patrol boats, corvettes and coastal targets.
MBDA was awarded the production contract for Sea Venom/ANL in March 2014. The joint programme is the first to take full advantage of mutual dependency arrangements agreed under the ‘One Complex Weapons’ initiative designed to consolidate the Anglo-French missile industry around MBDA.