Rolls Royce press release
Both partners will work collaboratively to mature a new propulsion solution for a subsonic, low observable missile expected to be fielded before the end of the decade.
Signed at Farnborough International Airshow, the agreement now means that Rolls-Royce and Safran Power Units will work alongside MBDA to meet the propulsion requirements for the UK and French Governments, with the intent to provide a game changing capability to overcome hardened targets and air defence systems in increasingly contested battlespace environment.
Earlier the UK Ministry of Defence and the French Armament General Directorate (Direction Générale de l’Armement -DGA) signed a bilateral agreement for the FC/ASW programme that will see the joint development of a next generation of deep strike and heavy anti-ship missiles.
Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said:
“FC/ASW is a strategic programme for the UK and France and we are very pleased to welcome Rolls-Royce and Safran Power Units into the team. Their joint expertise will prove fundamental to the success of the subsonic FC/ASW concept, further strengthening the benefits of UK/French co-operation on this programme”.
Alex Zino, EVP Business Development and Future Programmes for Rolls-Royce Defence said:
“Combining the strengths of industry from across the UK and France underlines the significance of this programme. With this collaboration, both companies will be able to demonstrate the strong alignment between the UK and French industry and can effectively work together to provide the power to protect our armed forces and our societies”.
Ghislaine Doukhan, CEO Safran Power Units said:
“We are proud to join the FC/ASW programme which further reinforces the strategic collaboration in this domain between the UK and France which began in the early 90s with the successful development of the SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow cruise missile engine. Safran Power Units brings to the team more than 60 years experience in the development and manufacturing of advanced propulsion systems for missiles such as MBDA Scalp, Exocet and MdCN (missile de croisière naval- naval cruise missile)”.
Rolls-Royce has a long history of working alongside French industry, including work alongside Safran, the Adour co-operation started in 1965 being the longest-running aerospace collaboration.
Naval News comments:
This decision is regarding a new propulsion solution for a “subsonic, low observable missile” which is said to be the favored option of the Royal Navy. The French Navy is said to be in favor of a ramjet-powered, supersonic anti-ship missile with “high penetration capacity”. According to our information, MBDA along with UK’s DE&S and France’s DGA are still working on both missile concepts (subsonic and supersonic). A source with knowledge of the matter told Naval News that the FC/ASW program is currently in a 36 months-long assessment phase. The program is set to reach a so-called “decision point” next summer (2023). In all likelihood, MBDA and both the UK and France will continue to develop and eventually produce both type of missiles because they are complementary. The subsonic missile will feature a majority of British content but its propulsion will be Franco-British. Likewise the supersonic missile will be French for the most part but will feature some British content, especially in its seeker.
Following the Lancaster House agreement of 2010, France and the United Kingdom launched in 2017 a joint program with the goal to replace their cruise and anti-ship missiles circa 2030.
Named FC/ASW for Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (or FMAN/FMC for futur missile anti-navire/futur missile de croisière in French), the program is led by European missile leader MBDA. The FC/ASW aims to replace the air launched Scalp/Storm Shadow as well as the air and ship launched Exocet and Harpoon anti-ship missiles currently in service with French and British air forces and navies.
The FC/ASW seeks to develop a new generation of deep strike and anti-ship missiles by 2030. It aims at replacing the capabilities provided by Storm Shadow/ SCALP air launched cruise missile in operational service in the UK and France as well as the Exocet anti-ship missile in France and the Harpoon anti-ship missile in the UK.
MBDA announced the successful achievement of the FC/ASW (Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon) “Key Review” phase, jointly conducted with the British Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) in 2019. In a written parliamentary question Jeremy Quin, British Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence revealed that the FC/ASW will equip both navies, Royal Navy and French Navy (Marine Nationale) starting 2028.
In the meantime, UK was considering an interim solution to replace the obsolete Harpoon Block 1C, off the shelf anti-ship missile solution for its current and future surface fleet (with the first Type 26 frigate set to be delivered around 2025). Dubbed Next Generation Interim Surface Ship Guided Weapon (I-SSGW), the missile were set to be delivered starting December 2023. However the plan was cancelled in early 2022: