French defence officials have carried out the MdCN (Missile de Croisière Naval - Naval Cruise Missile) weapon's first simulated ship-borne launch, with successful results.
While this was a land-based trial, the missile was launched from infrastructure designed to replicate a French Navy frigate at sea. According to MdCN's developer, MBDA, it was a rigorous trial as, beyond the launch phase, the missile's navigation and infrared target recognition capabilities were also put to the test.
Once in French Navy service, the MdCN will be part of the armament carried by its FREMM (multi-mission frigate) vessels and Barracuda submarines.
The joint French/Italian FREMM design is an anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-aircraft frigate now being supplied to each nation's navy. The Barracuda submarine is still in development. It is expected that six will be built, joining the French Navy between 2017 and 2027.
Sea-Launched Naval Cruise Missile
The MBDA sea-launched Naval Cruise Missile has an extensive range and is designed to strike targets well inside national boundaries. Based on the air-launched SCALP missile, the Naval Cruise Missile is compatible with a range of different ship types and MBDA has been working on this technology since 2006.
The SCALP (or Storm Shadow, in other air arms' service) has more than a decade's operational use behind it. It has a 250 mile range and a maximum speed of Mach 0.8, while it weighs 1,400 kilograms and is around 6.5 metres in length.
According to MBDA: 'Carried on combat vessels positioned for lengthy periods at a safe distance in international waters, either overtly (on frigates) or discretely (on submarines), MdCN is designed to carry out missions calling for the destruction of high value strategic targets'.
The new weapon is due to enter service next year but won't be twinned-up with the Barracudas until 2017, according to current scheduling.