MICA (missile)

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MICA P6230072.JPG
An air-launched MICA on a Dassault Rafale
Type Short/medium range air-to-air and surface-to-air missile
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1996
Used by See Operators
Production history
Manufacturer MBDA
Weight 112 kg[1]
Length 3.1 m[1]
Diameter 160 mm[1]
Warhead 12 kg warhead[1]
Proximity or direct impact[1]

Engine Solid-propellant rocket motor
  • Air-launched: 0.2–50 km[2]
  • Vertical-launched: 1–20 km[1]
Flight altitude
  • Vertical-launched: 0–11 km[1]
  • Air-launched: Mach 4[2]
  • Vertical-launched: Mach 3[3]

The MBDA MICA (Missile d’interception, de combat et d’autodéfense, “interception, combat and self-defence missile”) is an anti-air multi-target, all weather, fire-and-forget short and medium-range missile system. It is intended for use both by air platforms as individual missiles as well as ground units and ships, which can be equipped with the rapid fire MICA Vertical Launch System. It is fitted with a thrust vector control (TVC) system. It was developed from 1982 onward by Matra. The first trials occurred in 1991, and the missile was commissioned in 1996 to equip the Rafale and Mirage 2000. It is a replacement for both the Super 530, in the interception role, and the Magic II, in the dogfighting role.

On 11 June 2007, a MICA launched from a Rafale successfully demonstrated its over-the-shoulder capability by destroying a target behind the launch aircraft for the first time in aviation history. The target was designated by another aircraft and coordinates were transmitted by Link 16.[4]


There are two MICA variants; MICA RF has an active radar homing seeker and MICA IR has an imaging infra-red homing seeker. Both seekers are designed to filter out counter-measures such as chaff and decoy flares. A thrust vector control unit fitted to the rocket motor increases the missile’s agility. The missile is capable of lock-on after launch (LOAL) which means it is capable of engaging targets outside its seeker’s at-launch acquisition range. Mounted on the Rafale, the MICA IR can provide IR imagery to the central data processing system, thus acting as an extra sensor.[5]

MICA can also be employed as a short-range surface-to-air missile. It is available in a ground-based version, VL MICA, fired from a truck-mounted box launcher, and a naval version, VL MICA-M, fired from a ship-fitted vertical launch system.[3] On October 23, 2008, 15:30, at CELM, Biscarosse (Landes), a VL MICA missile successfully performed the last of its 14 test firings meaning it is now ready for mass production. The target drone was flying at low level, over the sea, 12 km away; despite this distance, MICA, equipped with an active radar seeker, locked on the target and shot it down.

Corvettes too small to have the big and costly Aster missile system are the most likely customers for the VL MICA-M, which offers similar capability as the Aster 15 but without its booster and PIF-PAF vectorial control.[6]

While the VL MICA has an advertised range of 20 km, aerodynamic performance is significantly degraded at those ranges. From 0 to 7 km MICA has maneuverability of 50g, however by 12 km this is reduced to 30g as energy is lost.[7]




Map of MICA operators in blue

Current operators[edit]

Oman Sultanate of Oman
 Republic of China (Taiwan)
 United Arab Emirates

Future operators[edit]

  • Indonesian Navy: VL MICA to be installed on two new Sigma 10514 Frigate and there also planned to be installed on Bung Tomo Class

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g VLS MICA, MBDA, retrieved 24 November 2014 .
  2. ^ a b "MICA", Global Security, retrieved 24 November 2014 .
  3. ^ a b Mica Vertical Launch Short-Range Air-Defence System, France, Army technology, retrieved 24 November 2014 .
  4. ^ "Tir MICA depuis un Rafale F2: quand le chasseur devient la cible" [MICA shoot from a Rafale F2: when the hunter becomes the target] (in French). Armées. 
  5. ^ de Briganti, Giovanni (2011-05-31). "Rafale in Combat: "War for Dummies"". Defense aerospace. Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  6. ^ "news section", A&D dic, 2008 .
  7. ^ VL MICA (PDF), MBDA, retrieved 24 November 2014 .
  8. ^ "Cabinet Committee clears 950 million Euro deal to procure 500 air-to-air missiles for Mirage 2000". The Economic Times (The Times of India). 2012-01-04. 
  9. ^ Hunter, Jamie (20 June 2007), "Upgraded Moroccan Mirage marks first signing for Astrac partnership", FlightGlobal .
  10. ^ "Singapore selects VL Mica for new littoral mission vessels", Jane’s .

External links[edit]