The United Arab Emirates turns to the MICA VL NG missile for its Gowind 2500 corvettes

In November 2017, the United Arab Emirates confirmed the order for two Gowind 2500 corvettes from the French military shipbuilder Naval Group. If many of the equipment selected by Abu Dhabi were of French origin, the anti-aircraft defense was then entrusted to the American couple formed by the vertical launch system VLS Mk41 and the anti-aircraft missile ESSM Block 2, the new version of the heir to the Sea Sparrow. But according to the Naval News website, the Emirati authorities would have changed position, to turn to the French missile MICA VL NG of the missile manufacturer MBDA, new version of the surface-to-air missile MICA VL itself derived from the very powerful air-air missile MICA which equips the Rafale and Mirage 2000 in France and abroad.

If, like Egypt before it, Abu Dhabi turned to the French missile, it would be above all because of the American refusal to export the Block 2 version of its ESSM to the UAE, a retaliatory measure linked to the project since failed to set up a Chinese naval base in the country and which, among other things, had also led the American authorities to put negotiations on the acquisition of 50 F-35s on hold. Even after the abandonment of the Chinese project, Washington would not have specifically arbitrated on the authorization of export of the ESSM Block 2 to Abu Dhabi, proposing instead the first version of the missile currently in service in many navies. . However, the latter uses a semi-active guidance system and not an active radar seeker like the Block 2 or like the MICA VL, whether standard or NG, thereby limiting the ship's ability to simultaneously guide several missiles against its targets.

the ESSM-Mk41 couple is undeniably a success on the international scene, in particular because of its capacity to ensile 4 missiles per silo

The ESSM Block 1 or 2, however, had a major advantage vis-à-vis the French missile, that of being able to be wrapped up by 4 in a Mk41 silo, we then speak of a "quad pack", potentially allowing a corvette like the Gowind 2500 equipped with 2 VLS Mk41 i.e. 16 silos, to have 64 anti-aircraft missiles, where the choice of the MICA VL NG will limit the number of missiles on board to 16. On the other hand, because of its autonomous firing capabilities "shoot and forget" of the MICA VL, the corvette will be able to launch several missiles almost simultaneously to protect itself, especially since the French missile is reputed to be more precise and efficient than the ESSM Block 1 which must, most often, be launched in pairs to treat a single threat where a single MICA VL is sufficient. This is precisely where the new ESSM Block 2 version brings significant added value, since it is equipped, like the MICA VL, with an infrared coupled radar homing device allowing "Shoot and forget" use and therefore respond saturation attacks.


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