01 May 2014

MOD invests £36m in new Army defence missile

Summary: The British Army could be set for a new multimillion-pound short-range air defence missile system after the Ministry of Defence signed a deal with MBDA to start assessment phase work on the programme.

MBDA UK has been awarded the £36m contract to explore the capability of the Future Local Area Air Defence System (FLAADS) and what it could offer the UK Armed Forces.

FLAADS is a ground-based missile system that can travel at 1,000 meters per second and is able to simultaneously defend UK territories against a number of threats including jets or cruise missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.

The Army’s current air defence system, Rapier, which was used to defend London during the 2012 Olympic Games has been in service since 1996 and is coming to the end of its service life.

The FLAADS assessment will include work on a data link, command and control, launcher, vehicle type and other equipment that makes up the overall FLAADS system. The assessment phase is scheduled to run for 18 months and be complete around mid-2015, after which a decision will be made.

MBDA is already developing a similar system for use at sea, known as Sea Ceptor, which will be used by the Royal Navy.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Philip Dunne said: “These missiles are designed to form a suite of battle-winning capabilities we are investing in. This potential land system is the next stage development of a maritime system which highlights the UK is a world leader in evolution of missile design and manufacturing.”

MBDA UK Managing Director and Executive Group Director Technical Steve Wadey said: “It’s the opportunity to provide an affordable, yet highly capable air defence system for both the Army and Royal Navy. By extending the FLAADS programme to land applications, the UK MOD is showing confidence in MBDA’s ability to maximise cost benefits for its customers through modularity and re-use of existing technologies.”