MBDA will begin a two-year project definition and risk-reduction (PDRR) study in November for a ship- and submarine-launched version of the Scalp EG/Storm Shadow air-launched, long-range stand-off missile. Full-scale development will begin in 2005.

The French navy approved funding for the Scalp Navale development programme earlier this year, but final go-ahead awaited the publication last month of the French defence ministry's 2003-08 procurement plan. Scalp Navale is intended to arm the navy's next generation FMM multi-mission frigates and Barracuda submarines.

This study "will enable us to suppress the risks attached to the specific nature of Scalp Navale", says MBDA chief executive Fabrice Brégier. "We want to make sure we can qualify the vertical launch because although we have extensive experience in vertically launched missiles, none are as heavy as this one, which will weigh 1.3t," says Brégier.

"If the budgets are there, Scalp Navale will be ready for qualification when the first FMM frigate is delivered in 2008," he says.

Scalp Navale will use the guidance and mission-planning systems from the air-launched weapon, but the airframe will be redesigned for vertical and torpedo-tube launch, and equipped with a booster for the initial stages of flight. Warhead size will also change.

Meanwhile, MBDA is to develop a Block 3 Exocet missile - an extended-range Exocet MM40 anti-ship missile with coastal attack capability.

Source: Flight International