The MBDA MICA (Missile d’interception, de combat et d’autodéfense) is an anti-air multi-target, all weather, fire-and-forget short and medium-range missile system. There are two MICA variants; MICA RF has an active radar homing seeker (also known as the MICA EM) and MICA IR has an imaging infra-red homing seeker. Both seekers are designed to filter out counter-measures such as chaff and decoy flares. A thrust vector control unit fitted to the rocket motor increases the missile’s agility. The missile is capable of lock-on after launch (LOAL) which means it is capable of engaging targets outside its seeker’s at-launch acquisition range. Mounted on the Rafale, the MICA IR can provide IR imagery to the central data processing system, thus acting as an extra sensor.
The MICA is a very capable air to air missile in the long range role. Due to its high speed it and good maneuverability it is a potent short range weapon. It is a replacement for both the Super 530, in the interception role, and the Magic II, in the dogfighting role. The MICA has a range of 0.5 to 60 km. It has a single stage solid propellant rocket motor with thrust vector control for a high level of agility. The vertical launch versions have a much shorter range since they need a lot of energy to create momentum and to gain altitude. The high end guidance sections have a high resistance to countermeasures. The MICA is a long and thin missile with long vanes in the middle and small fins at the rear.
MICA has a totally dual role. It is able to cope with both BVR and SR combat situations and exhibits very high performance in both situations. The weapon covers Beyond Visual Range situations and in addition offers 2 guidance systems with its 2 interoperable seekers: RF MICA with radar seeker providing all weather shoot-up / shoot down capability and IR MICA with dual waveband imaging infrared seeker surpassing latest generation AAM missiles. A thrust vector control unit fitted to the rocket motor increases the missile’s agility. The missile is capable of lock-on after launch (LOAL) which means it is capable of engaging targets outside its seeker’s at-launch acquisition range. The 12 kg HE-frag warhead will destroy most aerial targets.
The MBDA MICA can be launched from a variety of modern jet fighter and is primarily meant to arm the latest generation of French fighter aircraft. The MICA can be used on the Rafale, Mirage 2000-5, upgraded Mirage F-1 and F-16 Block 60. On 11 June 2007, a MICA launched from a Rafale successfully demonstrated its over-the-shoulder capability by destroying a target behind the launch aircraft. The target was designated by another aircraft and coordinates were transmitted by Link 16. The vertical launch models are meant to arm naval vessels too small to mount the Aster system. MICA can also be employed as a short-range surface-to-air missile. It is available in a ground-based version, VL MICA, fired from a truck-mounted box launcher, and a naval version, VL MICA-M, fired from a ship-fitted vertical launch system.