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France approves renewal of MICA missiles for Rafale and Mirage 2000 fighters.

| 2018

France is launching the MICA NG (Next Generation) program. This program will renew the MICA (Missile d’interception, de combat et d’autodéfense) of the Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighters of the Armée de l’Air (air force) and the Marine nationale (navy).

France approves MICA missiles renewal or Mirage 2000s and Rafales The MICA NG will replace the existing MICA. (Picture source: Armée de l'Air)

The MICA NG will replace the existing MICA. The latter will be gradually withdrawal from service between 2018 and 2030. The MICA NG will be available in two versions -- infrared (IR) and electromagnetic (EM) -- and deliveries will take place between 2026 and 2031.

The MICA NG is the first weapons program launched under France's 2019-2025 LPM (Military Program Law). The Mica NG will arm the planned upgrade of the Rafale fighter, with Dassault expected to sign a modernization contract of the fighter jet to the F4 standard later this year. The government has previously ordered preliminary studies for the Rafale F4.

Any missile upgrades will involve internal modifications, keeping the exterior unchanged, an industry source said. That is intended to ease the missile’s integration on the Rafale and avoid a costly change of the fighter’s aerodynamics. A Rafale can carry up to six Mica missiles. A Rafale pilot can release the Mica when intercepting an aircraft beyond visual range and can also fire the weapon from its rails when locked in a dogfight. The Rafale will also carry the Meteor missile to hit aircraft beyond visual range.

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