The MBDA-made Sea Venom light anti-ship missile has cleared its first qualification test conducted by France’s Directorate General of Armaments (DGA).
“The French Directorate General of Armaments has announced the success of the 1st qualifying round of the new light anti-ship helicopter missile,” DGA posted on its official Twitter account today.
The Franco-British project to develop the Sea Venom was launched in 2014. 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).
Developmental test firings were carried out in 2017 and 2018. The current test takes the program an inch closer towards the initial operational capability (IOC) of a new anti-ship capacity in the French Navy (Marine Nationale) and the Royal Navy.
"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 company said in a statement.
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, MBDA said.
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.