The missile manufacturer MBDA announced that it would offer its new short-range anti-aircraft system VL MICA NG, as part of the competition for the modernization of Romanian air defense. Even if this contract, worth €2 billion, will sharpen the ambitions of several other Western manufacturers, MBDA France has a unique opportunity to place its new system in a large NATO army, after they have shunned the VL MICA for 20 years, despite its performance.
Since the start of the Russian offensive against Ukraine, many countries, particularly in Europe, have had to modernize their anti-aircraft defense, whether to defend their land infrastructure or their naval units.
The European market for land-based air defense
Despite an extensive and efficient offering, the European missile maker MBDA is far from having distinguished itself in the majority on the old continent. Thus, in the field of long-range defense, it is the American MIM-104 Patriot which has largely established itself, with 7 European operators (+1 to come, Switzerland), far ahead of the French SAMP/T Mamba -Italian, in service only within the armed forces of these two countries.
In the intermediate segment, it is the American-Norwegian NASAMS and the German IRIS-T SLM which have taken the lion's share on the old continent, with respectively 6 operators and seven operators. MBDA UK's Land Ceptor, based on the CAMM missile, was chosen in Italy and especially in Poland, with a contract worth more than €2 billion for 22 PILICA+ batteries assembled on site .
Israeli systems have also achieved certain successes, with the €5 billion super contract for the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic systems which will be delivered to Germany, but also with the selection of the medium-range David Sling system by Finland, and the short-range SPYDER system by the Czech Republic.
In the field of very short-range anti-aircraft missiles, it is the American FIM-92 Stinger which stands out in Europe, with 12 operators. It is closely followed by the Mistral from MBDA France, with 9 operators, far ahead of the Swedish RBS 70 (5 operators), the British Starsteak and the Polish Grom bringing up the rear with a single operator each.
The French VL MICA shunned by European armies until now
On the other hand, and like the Franco-Italian systems designed around the Aster missile, the VL MICA system of the French MBDA has so far been shunned by the European armies. Like the NASAMS which uses AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, the IRIS-T SLM equipped with IRIS-T air-to-air missiles, the British Land Ceptor with the CAMM missile and the SPYDER and its Python 5 air-to-air missiles and Derby, the VL Mica is based on the short and medium range air-to-air missile MICA, which notably equips the Rafale and Mirage 2000-5 and -9 aircraft.
The rest of this article is reserved for subscribers -
Classic subscriptions give access to all articles without advertising , starting at €1.99.