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France, UK advance two missile concepts for FC/ASW programme

The FC/ASW preparatory phase will further mature and evaluate two guided weapon concepts: a long-range, low-observable subsonic missile (lower left); and a highly manoeuvrable, high supersonic missile (top right). (MBDA)

The French and UK governments have funded MBDA for the next phase of the collaborative Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme (in French, Futur missile anti-navire/Futur missile de croisière: FMAN/FMC).

A governmental agreement and associated contracts were confirmed by the France's Direction générale de l'armement (DGA) and the UK Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation on 17 February. The three-year preparatory phase – equivalent to the Assessment Phase in the UK's acquisition cycle – will focus on the co-ordinated development of a programme of next-generation deep-strike and heavy anti-ship weapons to enter service about 2030.

The FC/ASW programme intends to develop a new generation of guided weapons to replace the Exocet and Harpoon anti-ship missiles in naval service, and the air-launched Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles. The concept phase, which concluded last year, narrowed down to two complementary candidate designs: a long-range, low-observable subsonic missile; and a highly manoeuvrable, high supersonic missile.

The preparatory phase will continue work on the definition of the two missile concepts generated during the previous phase, and deliver a more detailed assessment of their suitability to meet the requirements of the two partner countries. “These concepts are to meet the requirements of France and the UK and will provide a game-changing capability to overcome land-based and maritime threats, hardened targets, and air-defence systems, at very long ranges and in increasingly contested battlespace environments,” said MBDA in a statement.

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