A team of pilots and operators from the Italian naval aviation test and evaluation centre, AgustaWestland and MBDA successfully completed final qualification and evaluation firings of the Marte Mk2/S air-launched anti-ship missile at the Salto di Quirra Joint Armed Forces test range in Sardinia last week.

Marking the end of the missile's qualification phase, the first firing was intended to demonstrate the weapon's maximum range of more than 30km (16nm). Launched from an AgustaWestland EH101 from an altitude of 3,000ft (910m) and a speed of 110kt (200km/h), the high-subsonic weapon descended to a 33ft cruising altitude before completing its attack phase.

This saw the weapon fly through a netted floating target at a height of 10ft above the sea surface almost 30km away from its launch point. The telemetry-equipped weapon then continued its controlled flight for an undisclosed distance before being destroyed from the test range control centre.

A further launch - the fourth originally earmarked for the qualification process - took place using a demanding scenario selected by the Italian navy. Simulating the engagement of a fast-manoeuvring attack craft using off-board targeting data, the missile seeker acquired the target at a high off-boresight angle before scoring a simulated hit at a range of 27km after negotiating two mid-course waypoints.

MBDA has begun series production of the Marte Mk2/S. The Italian navy is to receive its first 16 operational rounds early next year from a production order for 39 missiles, including six pre-production systems. The fire-and-forget Marte Mk/2S weighs 310kg (680lb), including a 70kg warhead, and has a land-attack capability with a claimed accuracy of 5-10m.

Source: Flight International