Britain needs to replace the old Sea Skua missiles carried by its Lynx naval helicopters. France could use a lighter missile than the 655 kg AM39 Exocet – one that could be carried by a wider range of helicopters, and offer a different attack profile. The answer to both needs may lie in a notional 110 kg missile under development by MBDA, as part of a broad 2006 “Team Complex Weapons” arrangement with the UK’s Ministry of Defence.
The tough part was getting Britain and France to come together and agree on the development framework for the Sea Venom / Anti-Navire Leger (ANL) / Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon – Heavy (FASGW-H) missile. Britain needs a strike missile to equip its new AW159 Wildcats, but France can already mount longer-range AM39 Exocets on its Super Puma helicopters, and didn’t feel a huge sense of urgency about its new NH90-NFH medium helicopters or AS565 Panther light naval helicopters. It took until 2013, but development is now underway.