PARIS – The Sea Venom missile being jointly developed by France and the United Kingdom under the 2010 Lancaster House treaties has successfully completed its first qualification firing trial.
The trial took place at the French DGA procurement agency's test site at Ile du Levant on Feb. 20, but was only announced Friday.
Sea Venom was launched from a Dauphin helicopter flying nearly as low as is possible for releasing the missile, which skimmed just over the water upon reaching its cruise phase. Images transmitted via the datalink to the aircrew were used during the terminal phase to manually refine the aim point. The missile then followed the designated point and hit the target “with a very high degree of accuracy,” according to MBDA.
The missile, measuring 240 pounds and 8.2 feet long, carries a 66-pound warhead, which it can deliver at high subsonic speed to an estimated range of 12 miles. The precise range is unknown, but MBDA has said in the past that it can be launched from beyond the reach of most modern air defense systems.
Two earlier firings of the missile demonstrated its lock on after launch (LOAL) and lock on before launch (LOBL) capabilities, as well as its low-altitude sea-skimming flight and autonomous guidance capabilities using images from its uncooled imaging infrared seeker.
Sea Venom, known in France as ANL (for anti-navire léger or lightweight anti-ship), is an anti-ship missile designed specifically to be fired by the French Navy’s future Guépard Light Joint Helicopter (or HIL – Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger) and the U.K. Royal Navy’s AW159 Wildcat to replace the Sea Skua.
The missile is designed to attack hostile vessels, ranging in size from small fast-moving craft up to corvette sized ships “amongst civilian assets, even in congested littoral environments” MBDA says. It can also engage static land-based coastal targets.
Christina Mackenzie was the France correspondent for Defense News.