Missile specialist MBDA will develop the next generation of the Missile d’Interception et de Combat Aérien Nouvelle Génération (MICA) missile called MICA NG, following the contract award by the French Defence Procurement Agency Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA).
Deliveries are slated to commence in 2026 for current and future versions of the Rafale combat aircraft. “We are proud of the work completed with the DGA to achieve maximum technical and financial optimisation,” said MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier at the programme launch. “The fact that we have reached this stage is thanks to the vision that we were able to share with our French customer to address its operational challenges, as well as our own long-term commercial challenges. The upgrading of the MICA family will enable us to support the armed forces throughout the remaining operational life of the Rafale.”
While the MICA NG will receive an extensive redesign over the existing MICA family, it will retain the same aerodynamics, mass and centre of gravity, to minimise the amount of adaptation needed to operate the new system with existing platforms and launchers. The MICA NG will continue to feature two different seekers (infrared and radio frequency) and two launch modes (rail and ejection) in a single missile casing. A major change will be related to the infrared seeker which will use a matrix sensor providing greater sensitivity; while the radio frequency seeker will use an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Antenna).
Due to the reduced volume of electronic components within MICA NG, it will carry a larger quantity of propellant, thereby significantly extending the range of the missile. A new double-pulse rocket motor will also provide additional energy to the missile at the end of its flight to improve manoeuvrability and the ability to intercept targets at long range. MICA missiles have been exported to 14 countries worldwide over the last two decades and are in operational service with several air forces, including the French Air Force.