France, the United Kingdom, and Italy have come together in a significant partnership to advance the development of the Futur Missile Antinavire / Futur Missile de Croisière (Future Anti-Ship Missile / Future Cruise Missile, FMAN/FMC) program. This program, currently in a risk-reduction phase, aims to revolutionize long-range anti-ship warfare and enhance the capabilities for in-depth strikes in the participating nations. On June 20, 2023, the United Kingdom and France solidified their commitment to the FMAN/FMC program by signing a Letter of Intent. This act further signifies their willingness to include Italy as an additional collaborator in this ambitious endeavor.
The forthcoming dialogue phase involving all three countries will establish the groundwork for the subsequent development phase. The ultimate goal for each nation is to achieve operational deep strike capabilities by 2030. This new chapter in the FMAN/FMC program will not only fortify the defense industry but also contribute to the technological advancements of Europe. Leading the project is MBDA, a renowned European authority in missile systems, thus ensuring a firm foundation for the program. The concept phase, with a budget of approximately 100 million euros, is equally funded by France and the United Kingdom.
Eric Beranger, CEO of MBDA said, “We are delighted with Italy’s intent to join the FC/ASW programme. Befitting our role as a champion of European defence co-operation – sharing technologies, capabilities, and expertise among our countries –we are pleased that this LoI opens the door for our Italian expertise to also be brought to bear in delivering this truly strategic defence capability for Europe. FC/ASW will meet the operational needs of the Italian, British and French armed forces in the deep strike and anti-ship domains for the decades to come.”
The primary objective of the Franco-British FMAN/FMC program is to replace the existing SCALP/Storm Shadow aircraft-launched cruise missiles, presently utilized by the French and British air forces, as well as France’s Exocet heavy air- and surface-launched anti-ship missile and the United Kingdom’s Harpoon missile. MBDA France and MBDA UK share the workload equally as well. During this stage, prime contractor MBDA will focus on maturing technologies and systems that aim to enhance the survivability, range, and lethality of anti-ship and cruise missiles deployed from both aircraft and warships.
Italy could bring some know-how and technology to the French and British partners. The Italian Navy has acquired the new MBDA heavy-duty missile TESEO MK / 2E (TESEO “EVO”) with also a strategic land attack capability for the attack of ground targets (the latter capacity, currently only possessed by the Air Force Military with the STORM SHADOW missile). In this regard it is considering the possibility of equipping the missile with a new terminal “head” with dual RF seeker (Radio Frequency) and, presumably, given the need to attack pure ground targets, IIR (IR imaging). Compared to the predecessor OTOMAT / TESEO, the TESEO “EVO” has a double range, more than 360 km.
MBDA is a European multinational developer and manufacturer of missiles. It was created in December 2001 after the merger of the main French, British and Italian missile systems companies; Matra, BAe Dynamics and Alenia. These were previously the missile subsidiaries of Aérospatiale-Matra (merged into EADS, now called Airbus), BAE Systems and Finmeccanica (now Leonardo). The company’s headquarters are located in Le Plessis-Robinson, France. Despite being a European joint venture, MBDA has maintained national divisions since its creation: MBDA France, MBDA UK and MBDA Italy.