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MBDA’s Naval Cruise Missile Production Started and Program is Progressing Well
 
As part of the EURONAVAL Press Tour, Navy Recognition had the chance to visit the MBDA site of Selles Saint Denis last week. This “missile factory” is the European Missile Integration Center. During our tour, we got the chance to see the production lines of the Exocet family of anti-ship missiles, Mica and Aster anti-air missiles and Scalp cruise missiles. But the highlight of the visit was by far when MBDA showed us two freshly assembled Naval Cruise Missile (NCM or MdCN in French).
As part of the EURONAVAL Press Tour, Navy Recognition had the chance to visit the MBDA site of Selles Saint Denis last week. This “missile factory” is the European Missile Integration Center. During our tour, we got the chance to see the production lines of the Exocet family of anti-ship missiles, Mica and Aster anti-air missiles and Scalp cruise missiles. But the highlight of the visit was by far when MBDA showed us two freshly assembled Naval Cruise Missile (NCM or MdCN in French).
 
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Focus: Naval Technology - MBDA Naval Cruise Missile (NCM)
 
 
 
MBDA’s Naval Cruise Missile Production Started and Program is Progressing Well
 
As part of the EURONAVAL Press Tour, Navy Recognition had the chance to visit the MBDA site of Selles Saint Denis last week. This “missile factory” is the European Missile Integration Center. During our tour, we got the chance to see the production lines of the Exocet family of anti-ship missiles, Mica and Aster anti-air missiles and Scalp cruise missiles. But the highlight of the visit was by far when MBDA showed us two freshly assembled Naval Cruise Missile (NCM or MdCN in French).
     
At the entrance of the MBDA facility, several missile systems (not scale models!) are on display, including this SM39 anti-ship missile inside its "VSM" (submarine launched version of the Exocet that fits inside a torpedo for the underwater phase). Complex lessons learned while developing the SM39 were very valuable to MBDA when developing the NCM
At the entrance of the MBDA facility, several missile systems (not scale models!) are on display, including this SM39 anti-ship missile inside its "VSM" (submarine launched version of the Exocet that fits inside a torpedo for the underwater phase). Complex lessons learned while developing the SM39 were very valuable to MBDA when developing the NCM
     
NCM Programme
The ability to strike strategic and military targets with exceptional precision from extended stand-off ranges has become a key operational requirement. MBDA’s experience in this area has already been proven with the development and entry into service of the Storm Shadow / SCALP air-launched cruise missile. This combat-proven missile system, with its unmatched capabilities, was the result of a multi-national European programme (France, Italy and the UK). Bringing together these European skills, MBDA is now developing NCM to meet the requirement issued by the French Ministry of Defence for a long-range cruise missile capable of being launched from surface ships and submarines.

In December 2006, MBDA was awarded a contract from the DGA for the development and production of the NCM. The very first firing took place from a Sylver A70 VLS system (same as on the FREMM Frigates) in May 2010. The first sub-surface test firing occured in June 2011. MBDA is planning to start mass production of the missile next year. IOC (initial operating capability) is expected to be 2015 for the FREMM Frigates and 2018 for the Barracuda next generation SSNs of the French Navy.

Overall the program is progressing as planned and the two NCM that were shown to us last week were actual missiles (painted in dark grey, not orange which would have indicated test or training rounds).
     
First qualification firing of the NCM in the submarine configuration (June 2014). Barracuda configuration. Picture: MBDA/DGA
First qualification firing of the NCM in the submarine configuration (June 2014). Barracuda configuration. Picture: MBDA/DGA
     
NCM is vertically launched from French Navy FREMM frigates using the compact A70 SYLVER vertical launcher which is also capable of housing other MBDA missiles such as the ASTER family of air-defence missiles. On the future Barracuda SSN, NCM will be launched through the torpedo tubes. Complex lessons learned while developing the SM39 (especially the phase when the system breaks out of the water) were very valuable to MBDA when developing the NCM. Navy Recognition understands that few countries master this complexity.
     
     

An NCM on the production line at the MBDA site of Selles Saint Denis in France.
Pictures: MBDA/Daniel Lutanie
     
NCM in details
During mission preparation, The flight profile of the missile (waypoint, altitude, speed etc) is optimized to make the NCM low observable (by making it fly low in valleys for example). It is typically prepared at head quarter level then passed on to the frigate or submarine. But a dedicated workstation allows for mission preparation onboard the vessel too. Once the missile is launched however, it is not possible to update or change the flight path or the target.

The NCM launch phase starts with the boost phase. The missile is fitted with two foldable wings (that sit on top of each other when folded). After the boost phase, the the booster is jetissoned, the two wing and three rear fins deploy and the Microturbo turbojet engine kicks in. Unlike on the SCALP EG cruise missile where the air intake is fixed, the NCM air intake is retractable.

While the air launched SCALP EG is fitted with a dual warhead, NCM is fitted with a unitary warhead. The main fuselage is made of several plates of aluminium. The missile is 7 meters long, canister included. Regarding submarines, NCM is compatible with 21 inch NATO torpedo tube standard.

All the sensors of the missile are fitted at the front: The IR seeker by Selex ES (looking down, behind a glass dome), the inertial reference unit, the radio altimeter and the GPS antenna. Both the FREMM and Barracuda will use the same identical missiles. The only difference resides in the launch tubes.
     
Scorpene SSK fitted with NCM would provide the deterrent capability wanted by Poland
Scorpene SSK fitted with NCM would provide the deterrent capability wanted by Poland
     
NCM for export
MBDA insists that any potential export customer would retain full sovereignty of the weapon system: A customer could choose any target without the green light or agreement from France. The customer would have all the tools to operate the NCM. France does not keep any "key" to keep the customer from launching the missile.

NCM provides permanent and deep strike reach: A real persuasive action. Another benefit is that it has high terminal effectiveness for very large target set.
     
DCNS teams are seen loading a MdCN cruise missile dummy onboard French Navy FREMM Frigate Aquitaine, first ship of the class (picture: DCNS)
DCNS teams are seen loading a MdCN cruise missile dummy onboard French Navy FREMM Frigate Aquitaine, first ship of the class (picture: DCNS)
     
An NCM seen here during a sub-surface test launch. Picture: MBDA/DGA
An NCM seen here during a sub-surface test launch. Picture: MBDA/DGA
     
NCM Summary
The Naval Cruise Missile Deep Strike Weapon Systems provides the naval forces with:
» Full customer sovereignty on the weapon system
» High flexibility level in deployment with its multiple modes of operation
» Outstanding performance level combining long range, metric terminal accuracy and a multi-effect lethal package