The French General Directorate of Armaments (Direction générale de l’armement; DGA) has acquired 367 MICA NG missiles from MBDA to arm its Rafale fighter jets under ~€1.8 billion MICA NG program. In addition to the 367 operational Mica NG missiles, this new order includes the supply of 150 Mica NG force training vehicles. The NG programme includes an extensive redesign of the current MICA family while keeping the same aerodynamics, mass and centre of gravity. It also covers pyrotechnic renovation of part of the fleet of current Mica missiles in order to allow their use until 2030 by all aircraft which already carry or will carry the Mica (Rafale all standards, Mirage 2000-5, Mirage 2000D refurbished). The contract was signed on March 5, 2021. These missiles will be delivered from 2028 to 2031.
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. MICA NG is intended as the replacement for the MICA missiles currently in operational service with the French armed forces and exported to 14 countries worldwide. This is done to minimise the amount of adaptation required to operate the new system with existing platforms and launchers. The unique concept that has ensured the ongoing success of MICA for two decades remains: the option of two different seekers (infrared and radio frequency) and two launch modes (rail and ejection) in a single missile casing. The MICA NG missile will be available in series production from 2026.
Based on an entirely new design, the MICA NG missile inherits the external dimensions and unique concept that has made the MICA anti-air missile such a success for a quarter of a century. This concept means MICA features either an infrared or a radio frequency seeker on the same common missile body, allowing the operator, at the moment of firing, to select the best option to respond to the tactics adopted by the adversary. On the MICA NG, a new infrared seeker based on a matrix sensor will provide increased sensitivity, while a new radio frequency seeker with an active electronically scanned antenna (AESA) will allow for smart detection strategies. In surface-to-air mode, the MICA NG will be able to intercept targets over 40 km away. Finally, maintenance and ownership costs will be significantly reduced thanks to internal sensors.
The lower volume of electronic components will enable the MICA NG to carry a larger load of propellant, significantly extending its range, and the new dual-pulse rocket motor will provide additional energy to the missile at the end of its flight, improving its manoeuvrability and its ability to intercept targets at long range. The technological step changes introduced with this change of generation will provide the capability to counter future threats. This includes targets with reduced infrared and electromagnetic signatures, atypical targets (UAVs and small aircraft), as well as the threats normally countered by air-to-air missiles (combat aircraft and helicopters). The reduced volume of electronic components within MICA NG will allow it to carry a larger quantity of propellant, thereby significantly extending the range of the missile.