Both the British and French governments have finally confirmed an $830 million (£500-million) investment into MBDA’s helicopter launched anti-ship missile, the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy) (FASGW(H)), which is alternatively known as the Anti-Navire Leger (Light Anti-Ship) or ANL in France.
The project was jointly announced in March 2008 with a Statement of Intent signed in January 2009. But he missile has been extensively delayed which has been mainly attributed to the French government’s lack of an immediate requirement for the missile which has caused problems for the Royal Navy (RN), placing a serious question on how workable such joint projects can ever be given different priorities and budget allocations.
Thales UK, the developer of the FASGW (Light) missile is also waiting for a contract from the ministry of defense. This missile too is unlikely to be ready before 2020 leaving the AW159 without an important part of its strike capability. FASGW is intended to replace the RN’s old Sea Skua, which was to have been taken out of service around 2015.
Investment is split with the UK’s Ministry of Defence paying £280 million with France paying the remainder. The 100-kg missile will be used by the Navy’s new version of the Lynx, the AW159 Wildcat helicopters that are beginning to come into service. However they will not be armed with the missile until around 2020.
Minister for defense equipment, support and technology Philip Dunne commented that the development would bring 200 jobs to the UK and was an indication of the strengthening relationship over joint procurement between the two countries. FASGW(H) will be suitable for use against small and medium maritime targets, particularly fast attack craft between 50-500 tons. The French Navy will use the missile on its Airbus Helicopter AS565 Panther helicopters and later with its NH90s.