The introduction of the Sea Venom/ANL helicopter-launched anti-ship missile into UK Royal Navy (RN) service faces a delay of up to 12 months because of unspecified technical issues, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has disclosed.
The slippage would leave the RN’s Wildcat HMA.2 helicopter without its principal anti-ship armament until the latter part of 2021.
Sea Venom/ANL is being developed by MBDA for the UK and French governments under a contract worth about GBP500 million (USD630 million) awarded in March 2014. The UK, which is managing the contract as part of MBDA’s Team Complex Weapons portfolio, is procuring Sea Venom/ANL to meet its Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy) – FASGW(H) – requirement; France is to field the missile on the future H160M Hélicoptère interarmées léger to meet its national Anti Navire Léger requirement.
Designed to disable targets from fast attack craft up to corvette size, and also offer a capability against coastal and land targets, Sea Venom/ANL is a 110 kg-class high-subsonic missile incorporating an imaging infrared seeker (with provisions for an additional semi-active laser guidance channel), a two-way datalink for operator-in-the-loop (OITL) control, and a 30 kg warhead. While the missile is capable of flying a fully autonomous profile, OITL control will enable capabilities such as in-flight re-targeting, aim-point correction/refinement, and safe abort.
While Sea Venom/ANL is intended to address the FASGW(H) requirement, the UK is also procuring the Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) to meet its Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Light) – FASGW(L) requirement. To be known as Martlet in RN service, the laser-guided LMM will afford Wildcat a precision surface attack capability more proportionate to smaller surface targets such as fast inshore attack craft.
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