European missile house MBDA (Stand 07-A07) is proposing its new Sea Venom/Anti-Navire Léger (ANL) lightweight anti-ship missile as a replacement for the AS15TT missile currently in service on Panther helicopters in the region.
The AS 565MB shipborne variant of the Panther is operated by the UAE Navy (pictured inset) and the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. Both have integrated the 15km-range AS15TT command-guided missile, which works in conjunction with the Agrion radar.
Developed by MBDA to meet the joint needs of the UK and France Sea Venom/ANL is a high-subsonic, drop-launch sea-skimming missile characterised by an imaging infrared seeker, a two-way datalink for operator-in-the-loop (OITL) control, a 30kg semi-armour piercing blast/ fragmentation warhead, and a maximum range in excess of 20km.
While the 110kg missile will be capable of flying a fully autonomous ‘fire-and-forget’ profile, the OITL control mode will enable additional capabilities such as in-flight re-targeting, aimpoint correction/ refinement, and safe abort.
The UK Royal Navy, which will see its existing Sea Skua helicopter-launched anti-ship missile retired at the end of March, plans to equip its new Wildcat HMA.2 shipborne helicopter with Sea Venom/ANL from late 2020; the French Navy has yet to decide whether the system will be carried by the AS 565 Panther, the NH90 Caïman Marine, or potentially both.
Trials of Sea Venom/ANL are currently using an instrumented AS 365 Dauphin helicopter based at the Direction générale de l’armement’s Essais en vol flight test centre in Cazaux, southwest France. According to MBDA, the use of the Dauphin testbed – from which the military Panther is derived – will clear the basic integration and qualification of the missile on the Panther airframe.