MICA Air-to-Air Missile System, France


MICA air-to-air missile system

Missile d'Interception, de Combat et d'Autodéfense (MICA) is a solid propellant-fuelled, multi-mission, air-to-air missile that can be integrated onto medium-to-lightweight, modern multi-role combat aircraft such as Rafale and the improved versions of Mirage 2000-5 single-engine fighter aircraft.

It is designed and developed by European missile systems producer, Matra BAE Dynamics Alenia (MBDA), to detect, track and destroy multiple targets beyond the visual range. It is also suitable for short-range combat operations.

The missile is operational with the French Air Force and Navy and has been exported to a number of foreign countries including Taiwan, Qatar, the Arab-Emirates and Greece.

MICA is available in two versions, MICA IR (infrared) and MICA RF (radio frequency).

MICA air-to-air missile design and features

The air-launched MICA missile features a lightweight, compact design with long chord wings. Four control surfaces are located on its tail to provide high speed and improved aerodynamic capabilities.

The missile has a length of 3.1m, diameter of 0.16m, and weighs 112kg. It can be launched using rail launch or ejection launch method from an aircraft.

Target designation for the missile is provided by electro-optical sensors, radar and helmet-mounted sight.

Guidance and warhead

The guidance section, mounted in the nose section, consists of strap-down inertial reference unit, data link, passive imaging IR seeker, and active RF mono-pulse Doppler seeker.

The strap-down inertial reference unit is installed to determine attitude and heading information, while the data link carries the updated target information from the carrier aircraft to the missile.

The MICA IR is provided with a dual waveband, passive imaging IR seeker that provides terminal guidance. The active RF, mono-pulse Doppler seeker provides the MICA RF with shoot-up / shoot down capability in all weather conditions.

The air-launched weapon is capable of operating in lock-on before launch and lock-on after launch modes. An infrared search and track (IRST) system in the seeker allows the missile to autonomously detect, track and lock-on the targets.

The missile's high-explosive warhead is triggered by RF proximity fuse, direct impact fuse and focused splinters.

Propulsion and performance of MICA air-to-air missile

The MICA air-to-air missile is powered by a low-smoke solid propellant with high impulse. A thrust vector control system coupled to tail control surfaces provides high manoeuvrability.

"The missile is operational with the French Air Force and Navy and has been exported to a number of foreign countries including Taiwan, Qatar, the Arab-Emirates and Greece."

It can be fired from the aircraft at maximum g and maximum angle of attack. Its stealth, multi-shoot, and first-shot, first-kill capabilities provide increased fire power for lightweight fighters.

Up to six MICA missiles can be carried on the medium to lightweight aircraft. The MICA's minimum and maximum operating ranges are 500m and 60km respectively.

Orders and deliveries of MICA missile system

The radar-guided, heat-seeking MICA EM (electromagnetic) air-to-air missile became operational in 1999, while the Mica IR entered service in 2000. A MICA missile was successfully fired from French Air Force's Rafale F2 aircraft during a complex combat scenario in June 2007. The French Air Force received 1,000th MICA in October 2010.

MBDA secured a contract from the Greek Ministry of Defence for the supply of 100 MICA missiles in IR and RF variants in January 2004.

Qatar Emirate ordered MICA IR and MICA EM missiles for its Rafale fighter aircraft in 2015.

Sagem was contracted by MBDA in June 2012, to provide 200 IR seekers for Mica air-to-air missiles.

Dassault Aviation received approval from the French defence procurement agency, DGA, in July 2016 to equip 55 Mirage 2000D nuclear attack aircraft with new MICA IR air-to-air missiles.


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