MBDA Gears Up Production of New Air Defense Missile

 - April 27, 2017, 6:41 AM
A Common Anti-Air Modular Missile is vertically launched from a wheeled Army vehicle. (MBDA)

MBDA concluded a large contract with the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) for common anti-air modular missiles (CAMMs) worth $415 million. The new missiles will provide air defense for Britain’s Type 23 frigates (replacing the Sea Wolf system) and for the new Type 26 frigates. They will also replace the Rapier air defense system that protects British Army formations. The two services will draw from a common stockpile of missiles. 

When combined with a radar and datalink, the CAMM becomes part of what MBDA calls the Sea Ceptor system when placed onboard ships, and the Land Ceptor system for ground-based applications. The latter was previously known as the Future Local Area Air Defence System (FLAADS). 

The latest contract follows one worth $128 million that the MoD placed with MBDA last November, covering demonstration and initial manufacture for the Type 26 frigates. 

Although the CAMM is ostensibly based on the well established advanced short range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM), an MBDA spokesman noted to AIN that “only the rocket motor is the same. The active radar seeker, the warhead, the fusing and the control surfaces are all new.” MBDA has built a new factory at Bolton in northern England to produce the new missiles, replacing its old site at nearby Lostock.

Test firings of CAMM began in 2013. The missile is "soft-launched" vertically by a piston before the rocket motor fires. It provides 360-degree coverage against multiple simultaneous targets with a very high maneuver rate. It is compatible with any surveillance radar and does not require a dedicated tracking radar on warships. Multiple CAMMs can be land-based on wheeled vehicles that are easily concealed. 

MBDA says that the Sea Ceptor system has been selected for “five different naval platforms” but has identified only three: the UK’s Type 23s and 26s, and New Zealand’s Anzac frigates.