France and the UK have confirmed the launch of preparation work for MBDA’s Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme, after a government agreement and other associated contracts were signed on February 18.
The agreement and subsequent contracts were signed by representatives from the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA, Directorate General of Armaments) and the British Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) agencies. Work under the FC/ASW programme began in 2017 and culminated in the selection of two weapon concepts.
According to MBDA, the recently signed contracts will enable the firm and its industrial partners to further the co-ordinated development of next-generation deep strike and heavy anti-ship weapons under the FC/ASW portfolio. The consortium will continue to refine and assess two complementary missile concepts, which are expected to be fielded towards the end of the decade. The first focuses on a subsonic low-observable weapon, while the second regards a supersonic, highly manoeuvrable munition.
The company adds that the two concepts will be designed to meet the requirements of the French and UK armed forces by providing “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.” The company adds that the munitions developed under the FC/ASW programme will join its portfolio of existing products that will “continue to be evolved to adapt to new threats.”
Éric Béranger, MBDA’s CEO, said: “The FC/ASW programme is an example of the value of the ‘One MBDA’ integrated model. By combining technology, industrial capacity and funding across borders, we can deliver unique and advanced sovereign capabilities.
“Following the conclusion of the FC/ASW concept phase, the confirmation of the launch of these preparation works testifies the renewed confidence of our two countries towards MBDA. The project will take advantage from our sustained French/UK Centres of Excellence,” he added.
The munitions developed under the FC/ASW programme are expected to replace the current anti-ship and deep strike capabilities employed by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace (AAE, French Air and Space Force) and Marine Nationale (French Navy). The FC/ASW programme passed its key review phase, which was conducted by MBDA – together with the DGA and DE&S – in March 2019.