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European missile house MBDA attended the Lima 2023 defence exhibition, held in Langkawi from 23 to 27 May 2023, with a range of weapons that address the requirements of host nation Malaysia.

Following the selection of the KAI FA-50 to meet the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF’s) Light Combat Aircraft Phase 1 requirement in February 2023, MBDA is in particular proposing its ASRAAM within-visual-range air-to-air missile and Brimstone precision air-to-surface missile to arm the RMAF’s future FA-50 fleet.

These would provide “a potent set of weapons” for RMAF’s FA-50s that would allow both air dominance within visual range and a high load-out for attacking both static and moving surface targets, an MBDA spokesperson told ESD at LIMA on 23 May.

MBDA is meanwhile proposing further sets of its VL Mica air defence system for the Malaysian armed forces. While the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has already selected the system for its six Maharaja Lela-class Littoral Combat Ships, MBDA believes VL Mica could be applicable to other RMN vessels and also to the Royal Malaysian Army for its ground-based air defence requirements. The Malaysian armed forces are still operators of the venerable Seawolf naval air defence missile and Rapier land-based surface-to-air missile, the MBDA spokesperson noted, adding that VL Mica would thus present a significant upgrade in capability if it replaced these systems. The latest version of VL Mica, known as VL Mica NG, offers a number of enhancements over the current Mica missile: a new infra-red seeker with improves sensitivity, a new radio-frequency seeker with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna to facilitate smarter detection strategies; a lower volume of components and consequently a larger propellant load, increasing range; and a new dual-pulse rocket motor that provides more energy in the final stages of the missile’s flight.

The Brimstone missile was promoted by MBDA at LIMA 2023 for carriage on the RMAF’s new fleet of FA-50 light combat aircraft. (Photo: P Felstead)

For smaller RMN craft MBDA is additionally proposing its Simbad-RC remote-control air defence system, which features twin Mistral missiles in a lightweight launcher.

For Malaysian ground forces, meanwhile, MDBA was in particular proposing its Akeron MP missile system at the LIMA show. Featuring a high-resolution dual-mode uncooled infra-red/TV seeker and a programmable-effects warhead with anti-tank, anti-structure and anti-personnel modes, the Akeron MP system also offers both fire-and-forget and man-on-the-loop modes, where the latter retains autonomous flight by the missile but allows the firer to refine the aimpoint, change the target or abort the attack.

Peter Felstead