overscan (PaulMM)

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27 December 2005
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Marconi/Matra launch MICASRAAM

Marconi Defence Systems has joined Matra Defense in a 50:50 partnership for the development of MICASRAAM, a derivative of the French MICA missile, optimised for the shortrange air-to-air mission.

The two companies have offered the new missile to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for service in 1995 as an alternative to the Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air missile (ASRAAM). "MICASRAAM is the cornerstone of a GEC-Marconi/Matra special relationship and common strategy policy and I have every confidence we shall win the MoD deal," Matra Defense chairman and chief executive officer Noel Forgeard says. MICASRAAM, which is a combination of Matra's MICA short-range air-to-air missile and a GEC Marconi infra-red (IR) seeker head, is anticipated to cost one-third the development expenditure of other, similar programmes, says Forgeard. The MICA datalink and elongated wings have been removed and the warhead, as well as the imaging IR seeker have been optimised to the short-duration dogfight role. Marconi Defence and Matra Defense are sharing the MICASRAAM development, weapons trials, aircraft integration tasks and production. In addition to making the bid to the UK MoD on behalf of MICASRAAM, GEC Marconi is examining possible development of a semi-active radar homing MICA or derivative compatible with the Tornado F.3 interceptor and the European Fighter Aircraft, both of which will have the UK company's radar. The weapon would be an alternative to the Hughes AIM-120 AMRAAM and also the Active Skyflash missile being developed by British Aerospace and Thomson-CSF.



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GEC developing antiradar MICASRAAM

GEC-Marconi Dynamics is developing an anti-radar seeker head for the GEC Marconi/Matra MICASRAAM shortrange air-to-air missile as part of a programme to develop and extend the weapon's capabilities for future requirements. The air-to-air anti-radar seeker head would be interchangeable with MICASRAAM's existing infra-red (IR) seeker. The new GEC missile company believes that the experience GEC has gained with the development of the seeker head for the British Aerospace Alarm anti-radiation missile makes the air-to-air application feasible and increasingly desirable.

Other growth areas for MICASRAAM include dualmode IR/radar and IR/antiradiation seeker heads, on both of which GEC Marconi Dynamics has already started work. Meanwhile, GEC has revealed details of MICASRAAM, which it is bidding against the BAe/Hughes advanced short-range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM) and a system from Germany's BGT for the UK Ministry of Defence's Staff Requirements (Air) 1244, also known as ASRAAM, for a Sidewinder replacement.

The thrust of the GEC/Matra bid resides in three main areas.

First, the team points out that "...there will be no Congressional veto on this missile", a move designed to highlight BAe's teaming with Hughes in a rival bid. BAe counters by saying: "Hughes has an export licence in place for ASRAAM."

Second, GEC focuses on the MICASRAAM warhead, with Don Macmillan, Marconi's Weapons System Director (Designate), saying that it is "...almost doubled [over the norm for this range of weapons], which increases the chance of a kill by orders of magnitude". BAe responds: "Our warhead is optimised for its role."

Third, with the MICASRAAM motor section, GEC/Matra have opted for the Matra MICA missile's thrust-vector control (TVC) system.

BAe, whose bid includes tail control, is quick to point out that, since the mid-1970s, it has examined and fired TVC dogfight missiles, and found them to be, in the manufacturer's view, an expensive method to achieve good results

Slightly better photo


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