Two years into the FC/ASW (Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon) Concept Phase, MBDA has announced the successful achievement of its “Key Review”, jointly conducted with Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the British and French armament procurement agencies.

The conclusion of this Key Review makes it possible to select the most promising missile concepts in order to meet the requirements expressed by both nations’ armed forces.

The firm says that more in-depth studies will now be conducted on these concepts with the aim of identifying the solutions that will be selected at the end of the concept phase in 2020 in order to answer both nations’ requirements for long range anti-ship missions, suppression of enemy air defences and deep strike.

“The conclusions of this study will also make it possible to establish the road maps for maturing the technologies required, and to launch any follow on assessment phase.

This new phase will demonstrate the necessary maturity of the weapon system and its key components, to be followed by the development and production phase in the 2024 timeframe, so that current weapons systems can be replaced in accordance with required timescales.”

The FC/ASW programme was born from converging requirements expressed by both France and the UK for a long range anti-ship capability – to deal with the possibility of a confrontation on the high seas, a capability to neutralise the most advanced air defences, and a deep strike capability that can penetrate defences and hit long-distance hardened targets.

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.

Equally funded by France and the UK, the FC/ASW Concept Phase is a product of the defence relationship set out between both nations by the Lancaster House treaties.

Valued at €100 million, the current 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 effort will see MBDA mature systems and technologies that will increase the survivability, range and lethality of anti-ship and deep strike missiles launched by both air and naval combat platforms.

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Cam Hunter

Great ? we really need them…

Glass Half Full

Is this missile really intended as a replacement for Harpoon and Exocet though? If its replacing Storm Shadow/SCALP then its replacing a missile with >2x the overall mass, >2x the warhead mass and >3x the range of Harpoon and Exocet. Regardless of whether it ends up as high sub-sonic stealth or a Mach 3 class supersonic missile, it seems to be in a very different class, with probably a significantly different price point. For the UK at least it seems to make more sense to select JSM as the Harpoon class replacement; it will be a much more useful missile… Read more »


Also, our T31’s and T45’s will need to have a means of sinking ships. With both unlikely to get mk41 cells, and the fact it is unlikely this missile will be available on a deck mounted launcher, it would leave nothing for them. Therefore we will need something along the lines of NSM, and not just as an interim purchase. We really will need two classes of asm.

Glass Half Full

I remain skeptical on warship-to-warship ASM use for the UK because submarine and air-launched attacks seem far better tactics, unless we expect singleton engagements between pairs of ships in the middle of the ocean somewhere, in which case other measures to avoid this would seem to have failed. That’s why I am not that concerned over the demise of Harpoon. I think I get why Russia likes ship based ASM but I can’t see why NATO would want to get into ship-to-ship exchanges with them and play to Russia’s strength (ditto China), except from small fast coastal vessels like Norway’s,… Read more »

Glass Half Full

In the last para the utility comment was wrt MK41 in the short term/next ten years. Additional Sylver cells would increase current missile loadout capability immediately.

Steve Taylor

If we had 12 SSN’s (and perhaps some SSK’s) then yes. And if expect the only kinetic events to happen with the carrier present.

Across the Pond there has been a lot of talk about the surface fleet’s lack of lethality and the UK is worse off. Does Aster 30 have an anti-surface capability? I know SM3 does.

Yes OTH targeting is problematic. But we mustn’t over look the deterrent factor either.

Glass Half Full

The GIUK gap would be a formidable line to breach for the Russian surface fleet. UK, Norwegian, US and perhaps even Canadian P-8’s based in Norway, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland would be patrolling to track ships and detect submarines, with land based jets primarily prosecuting attacks with ASM on the ships IMV. So no requirement for carrier aircraft, although escorting surface ships from US reinforcing Europe would justify carrier use in addition IMV. I suspect submarines would be primarily tasked to hunt other submarines, but even then the UK wouldn’t be patrolling alone, their would be Norwegian and US… Read more »

Evan P

One option may be to do a similar thing to what the Americans did with the JASSM-ER which LRASM is based off. Some of the electronics are different but the airframe is common, lowering development costs. LRASM does have about 200 miles less range though so I agree with you in that we can’t assume Perseus will be able to do everything.

Glass Half Full

My perspective is that Perseus might well be able to do it all but the question would be at what cost. If a £1M missile will do the job, why fire off a £2-3M missile (I’ll be pleasantly surprised if Perseus is less than this), especially if multiple lower cost missiles may have a better chance of penetrating target defenses. But its also a case of loading and aircraft flying range trade-offs for an F35B between the two missiles. Now if Perseus became a program of two missiles with shared components, then that might work but we’d be back to… Read more »


Multi role is the way forward, modern processors ,multi mode sensors and multi mode warheads allow for a lot of different target sets and reduces the number of types we need to manage.It also allows the platforms they are carried by to be very flexible in the application of force.We should never consider expensive single role weapons again, look at Brimstone,Spear 3 as good examples and of coarse the American SM6 is a great example,anti air,anti ballistic missile,anti ship and even fixed position land attack all in one package.

Glass Half Full

Being intelligent about the application of force using multi-role, multi-platform solutions is key IMO to efficiency and affordability in the armed services, as well as collateral damage management.

SM6 is a great example of multi-role, but also a very expensive one too, which is why we need a range of escalating ASM capability – Martlet, Sea Venom, SPEAR3, JSM and FC/ASW (Perseus) – which all include land attack capability but not the SAM capability of SM-6.


How much of this missile will be built in Britain?

Steve Taylor

We get to produce the stickers. Not a bad deal for 90% of the development costs…….. 🙂


As article states development costs 50-50 and likely result will be a missile produced to same design and same parts by two different final assemblers, possibly having localised performance tweaking to meet each countries specific role requirements.


Well if we get stickers I’m definately in!


Why is it red? Will the real thing be red?

Steve Taylor

No. FWIW red is the colour of drill rounds……….

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Only Sea dart was red because they look steely on the launcher during Alpha.
All other drill weapons where /are blue
Skua and wolf where. 4.5 drill round is blue… Sting Ray is black but it has a blue band. Now with most missiles being VLS the blue/red missiles days are numbered.


I’m sorry but for 2 countries who have been knocking out various types of missile for decades the timeline for this is ridiculous, meanwhile Russia seems to produce vastly superior missiles at a fraction of the cost and much faster.
I know there isn’t a huge imperative to get this into service but the way things are going I wouldn’t want to wait that long

Robert Blay

Russia produces vastly superior missiles? I seriously doute that. They can’t make one aircraft carrier work without a fleet of tugs.


Indeed who is telling us this? 1) Putin and his lackies with the aim of promoting the perception of technical and military excellence when more often than not the realities are embarrassing to them. 2) Western (mostly American) military analysts usually with links to Government, Politics, military or arms suppliers who up the threat so as to get ‘equivalent’ or defensive options the go ahead they may not otherwise obtain. I remember back in the day awesome Russian air superiority fighters being used to achieve this due to their superior manoverabilty and apparent massive speed advantage over western aircraft. 25… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

Deciding if it’s to be red, or a completely different colour, is the next stage of assessment nominally costed at euro 70 million, I believe.


Don’t be silly, both countries use the same colours don’t ya know, it’s just a debate around whether it should be red white and blue or blue, white and red.

Gavin Gordon

The French are open to compromise on this issue, as always. Bleu would be acceptable if it’s sacre.

Mr Bell

Or more likely the French are planning to leave the programme just as soon as it is viable, finalised and has ironed out all development costs. Then they will manufacture their own missile using stolen Perseus intellectual property and call it the Macron or exocet 2 or some such.
Mark my words this missile will consume hundreds of millions or billions and not enter production. Or it will but at exuberant cost. Better to just purchase thousands of NSMs and saturate a targets ability to defend against them.

Glass Half Full

On other programs you may have a point, but Meteor, Storm Shadow/Scalp and Sea Venom are examples of missile programs where cooperation has worked.

Cam Hunter

Not far off being nuclear armed for the UK and France…

Rob N

I am not sure why a dedicated anti-ship missile is a bad idea. The F35 can be given a land atrack missile. The T26 will have 24 strike length for a wide range of missiles. The RN needs a modern super/hypersonic anti-ship missile, I doubt stealth alone will be enoght to get through a future Russian/Chinese fleer defence.

The T45 should have its additional strike length silos fitted and given at anti-ship missiles and ASTER 30 NT ABMs

Glass Half Full

The greater the number of different missiles, the greater the logistics burden, not to mention the engineering burden of maintaining different missiles. Just because we can fit lots of different missiles, doesn’t mean its a good idea to. If you then start having dedicated function missiles, you start losing flexibility in war fighting capability. For example in the T26 case lets assume dedicated missiles in a 8x ASM, 8x LAM and 8x SAM load out (with the SAM being > Sea Ceptor capability). If a ninth missile of any one of them is needed then you’re screwed if they are… Read more »

Rob N

unfortunately I fear you are under a false premis – that a generalist missile is as good as a missile specificaly created to do a specific job. Take the the SM6 – it might be good as an ABM killer but as a anti-ship missile its capability is very limited. Its anti-ship attack profile is simplistic, it dose not sea-skim or do any terminal manouvers. It also has a small warhead unlike a dedicated missile. It is not that stealthy and not very small. It it NOT a propper ASM… You cannot ask a boy to do a mans job!… Read more »

Glass Half Full

I’m not assuming that there is one missile to rule them all, because as I pointed out in my comment, combining SAM with ASM/LAM isn’t optimal due to different warhead requirements, even before other considerations. SM-6 was just used as an extreme example to illustrate a point on flexibility. That said, even a large warship hit in the bridge/superstructure/radar/sensors by a Mach 3.5 missile with an ~60kg warhead, plus remaining missile mass including whatever fuel is left, is going to have a very bad day and may well be put out of the fight. Conversely, dedicated ASM compromises flexibility given… Read more »

Rob N

I do not claim Sea Ceptor is in the same performance band as SM6. T26 is a frigate not an AAW destroyer it now has a usefull short – medium range AAW capability. T45 is there to provide the long range AAW capability. I am not suggesting we go with the current ASROCK as you point out it needs an update. However a ranged ASW missile would be a very good idea. You apoear confident that the RN will never go head to head with another blue water navy… I wish I could share your confidence when both Russia and… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Rob N, let’s drop SM6 specific discussion. It was only introduced as an example for flexibility to provide a counterpoint to your suggestion for dedicated ASM. You appear to consider Sea Ceptor adequate for T26 because T45 will be around. What about when T45 is not around? Artisan is good out to well beyond Aster 30 range, so if up against supersonic ASM in absence of T45, then addressing that threat early with T26 Aster 30 or similar is desirable. Even in a carrier strike group, a T26 might carry SAM that by choice, due to its superior radar, a… Read more »

Simon m

I am with cam as it is great news. MBDA projects seem to work really well (including with the French) so I am optimistic. I believe brimstone, meteor, storm shadow are all world class missiles. If the capability of Perseus is to be the benchmark then we will have another world class missile. I think a sensible approach would be to have the Exocet as the interim missile as it would hopefully allow a standard interface to be developed with the French allowing a smoother transition to the new missile it may even to be possible to share stocks with… Read more »


I agree on the optimism. MBDA has had a recent strong run of creating world-class missiles so I think the omens are good here. It seems to be a quality company. The French launch the MdCN variant of SS/SCALP from their subs and since this is intended to be a SS/SCALP replacement I would have thought that sub-launch would be on the French wish list. Whether it’s practical or not is another matter (I’ve no idea – not sure about sizes, boosters etc) but I can see why it would at least be on the wish list. I don’t know… Read more »


I don’t believe the issue of targeting a ship with an anti-ship missile has been fully explained, especially if its beyond the radar horizon. A good example is to examine how the Exocet was used to sink the Atlantic Conveyor. Argentina were trying to target the carriers Hermes and Invincible, except they weren’t sure of where they were. They assumed that they’d be together and operating off East Falkland and used the Sea Harrier’s published range to estimate a rough area. The description of its sinking is not accurately described in Wikipedia. The Exocet AM39 as used had a short… Read more »


I really wish this site had a proper forum for comments because so often people move on from old articles and comments are missed. I hope that isn’t the case with yours but, in case no one else says it, thank you so much for that fantastically informative comment. If you’re still monitoring comments then where does millimetric active radar (MAR) fit in for the future? I believe that SPEAR cap 3 will inherit it from Brimstone. As I understand it MAR can image a target, e.g. Brimstone aiming for turret rings on tanks, so SPEAR3 sometimes being mentioned as… Read more »


Zephyr suddenly starts to make a lot of sense