Rolls-Royce, Safran partner with MBDA on next-gen cruise missile program

Defence companies Rolls-Royce and Safran Power Units have jointly signed an assessment phase contract with MBDA, as part of the Franco-British future cruise/anti-ship weapon (FC/ASW) program. 

Illustration: Royal Navy file photo of frigate HMS Montrose firing a Harpoon missile

Signed at Farnborough International Airshow, the agreement now means that Rolls-Royce and Safran will work alongside MBDA to meet the propulsion requirements for the UK and French Governments.

The intent is to provide a capability to overcome hardened targets and air defense systems in an increasingly contested battlespace environment, according to the partners.

As explained, both companies will work collaboratively to mature a new propulsion solution for a subsonic, low observable missile expected to be fielded before the end of the decade.

“FC/ASW is a strategic programme for the UK and France and we are very pleased to welcome Rolls-Royce and Safran Power Units into the team. Their joint expertise will prove fundamental to the success of the subsonic FC/ASW concept, further strengthening the benefits of UK/French co-operation on this programme,” Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said.

“Combining the strengths of industry from across the UK and France underlines the significance of this programme. With this collaboration, both companies will be able to demonstrate the strong alignment between the UK and French industry and can effectively work together to provide the power to protect our armed forces and our societies,” Alex Zino, EVP Business Development and Future Programmes for Rolls-Royce Defence added.

Earlier the UK Ministry of Defence and the French Armament General Directorate (Direction Générale de l’Armement -DGA) signed a bilateral agreement for the FC/ASW program that will see the joint development of the next generation of deep strike and heavy anti-ship missiles.

We are proud to join the FC/ASW programme which further reinforces the strategic collaboration in this domain between the UK and France which began in the early 90s with the successful development of the SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow cruise missile engine,” Ghislaine Doukhan, CEO Safran Power Units noted.

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Equally funded by France and the UK, the €100 million FC/ASW concept phase was launched in 2017 for a duration of three years and is split 50/50 in terms of both quantity and quality of content between the UK and France.

The FC/ASW aims to replace Storm Shadow/ SCALP air launched cruise missile in operational service in the UK and France as well as Exocet anti-ship missile in France and Harpoon anti-ship missile in the UK.