The "Silent Killer" Missile - MBDA MICA - Performance and Discussion Thread (WIP)

MBDA MICA

Missile d’Interception, de Combat et d’Auto-défense

Interception, combat and self-defense missile

The missile formerly known as the Matra MICA and now established as MBDA MICA started out as a project to replace the Super 530D and R.550 Magic missiles completely. What Matra had set out to do was to produce a BVR-capable missile with a thrust vectoring motor and interchangeable sensors. This would mean that the body, motor and otherwise would be the same in dimensions, configurations, and weight for either variants (IR and EM/RF). The only differences being the sensor installed into the missile. This would provide pilots the opportunity of choosing the sensors best suited for the certain situations they faced themselves in. It also brought forth an advantage in that the potential adversaries would not know what series of steps to take to defeat the missile. A unique characteristic of the missile’s motor is it’s purple flame while the motor is burning.


Both sensors available for the missile also included similar features. These being inertial guidance, in-flight updating, and multi-target capabilities. The MICA missiles were then adopted on vertical launch platforms for surface to air operations on land and at sea making the missile dual-use for both air and surface launch. This also meant that the MICA missile is capable of defeating multiple variety of threats. Despite quoted figures of 80km for both sensors, the aerodynamic ranges of the IR/EM variant of the missiles were not the same. The MICA-IR seeker is shown to be less aerodynamic than that of the MICA EM/RF, providing shorter comparable range in any launch conditions.

The MICA-IR earned the famed nickname of “Silent Killer” as it was capable of long-range stealthy BVR strikes by utilizing features that could only be found on contemporary radar missiles at the time of it’s introduction. For this reason, MICA-IR had pioneered as the most advanced IR missile with its arrival.

Design

Performance in testing

Two notable testing occurred with the missiles:
In October of 2008, an EM variant of the MICA missile intercepted a Banshee drone flying at low level over the surface and managed a direct hit at 15km away.

In July of 2009, a VL MICA intercepted a target at 15km away replicating a missile flying just 10 meters above the surface and scored a direct hit. The missile used was the IR variant.

Stated manueverability from VL MICA configuration:

In 2022, MICA missiles were refurbished to increase the lifetime of the missiles by replacing the thrust motor. This would ensure a smooth transition with the arrival of MICA NG. The program to refurbish these missiles give way for the missile to be equipped onto the Mirage 2000D-RMV.

5 MICA IR and 1 MICA EM can be noticed here in this image

MICA-EM/RF

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You can see the MICA missile contains a distinct purple flame.

CHARACTERISTICS OF MICA EM:

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Length: 3.1m (Source: 1,8,)
Width: 0.16m (Source 1,)
Finspan: 0.56m
Diameter: 160 mm (Source 1,8,)
Weight: 112kg (Source 1,3,4,5,8)

Estimated weight after burn: 70.12kg (Source: 30**)**
Speed: Mach 4.5(Source 8,10,11) (Review)
Minimum Range: 350m (Source 23,)
Maximum Range: 80km (Source 1,8,15)

Maximum Lock Angle Before Launch: 110 degrees (Source 11,49)

Radar Band: J-Band (7,11)
Tracking Rate: 30 degrees a second (Likely similar to source 9)

Field of View: Classified
Propulsion: Single-pulse Protac Motor, burn time of 6 seconds (Source 10,30)

Estimated Thrust: (Source: 30)
Guidance Duration: Unknown

Seeker Range: Thales AD4A Active Radar (10 seconds time to pitbull)
Warhead: 12kg Radar/Impact (7,8)

Estimated Explosive Mass: (Source: 30)
Guidance Type: Inertial/Active
Manuevering Capability: 50g up to 7km, 30g up to 12km - Measurements in ground launched configuration. (Source 17,)
Capabilities: Active Radar, Datalink, LOAL, LOBL, Rail and Ejection launch, 360 degree launch envelope, lofting mechanism, mid-course update, multi-target


MICA-IR

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The chips of the SAGEM IIR sensor for MICA-IR.

CHARACTERISTICS OF MICA IR:

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Length: 3.1m (Source: 1,8, )
Width: 0.16m (Source 1, )
Finspan: 0.56m
Diameter: 160 mm (Source 1,8, )
Weight: 112kg (Source 1,3,5,8)

Estimated weight after burn: 70.12kg (Source: HIDDEN)
Speed: Mach 4.5(Source 8,10,11)
Minimum Range: 350m (Source 23,)
Maximum Range: 80km (Source 1,8,15)
Maximum Lock Angle Before Launch: 120 degrees (PRIMARY-Source 9,11 )
Tracking Rate: 30 degrees a second (PRIMARY-Source 9,11)

Field of View: Classified
Propulsion: Single-pulse Protac Motor, burn time of 6 seconds (Source 10,30)

Thrust: HIDDEN Source: (30)
Guidance Duration: Unknown
Seeker Range: SAGEM IIR - Terminal imaging dual-band infrared seeker
Warhead: 12kg Radar/Impact Proximity (7,8)

Estimated Explosive Mass: (Source 30)
Guidance Type: IR
Manuevering Capability: 50g up to 7km, 30g up to 12km - Measurements in ground launched configuration. (Source 17,)
Other capabilities: Datalink, LOAL, LOBL, Rail and Ejection Launch, 360 degree launch envelope, mid-course update, can be used as auxiliary IRST, dual waveband imaging, multi-target

MICA Missile launched in VL configuration, the low guidance delay is apparent in these launches.


MICA/RJ

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In 1994, Matra and Onera had came together to develop a ramjet variant of MICA missile. It was a 167kg variant featuring increased range, and was put forth in the competition in the Meteor program eventually losing out to the S225XR. The MICA/RJ or also known as Missile intermediat de combat aerien/ramjet had used the LFIRR design as opposed to the VFDR design in the eventual Meteor.


MICA NG (BOTH IR + EM/RF)

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The MICA NG exhibits similarities but differences compared to the earlier generation. From the exterior, there are no differences because it uses the same body and dimensions of the earlier generation, but instead is now more efficient and features newer seekers. The commonality with the previous generation allowed for streamlining of logistics and maintenance, as well as easy integration into existing systems. The electronics are condensed, and with the space savings, more propellant is included to increase the overall range. It is claimed that the kinetic range increase is 30% over the previous generation which would come out to be around 110km in range.

The MICA NG also converts from a single pulse motor to using a double-pulse motor, but the second booster varies in terms of when it turns on, depending on the type of threats it’s engaging, as well as the dynamic situation it faces itself in. A benefit of the second booster being used in later flight ranges is that the thrust vectoring could potentially function to provide greater maneuverability at the tail end portion of its flight against highly maneuverable targets.

https://youtu.be/lekxozJ02y4?si=2ZygbFCdVYZvoocF

The MICA NG-IR is stated to be using a MATRIX sensor while also providing higher resolution imagery for optronic usage, and the MICA NG-EM uses an AESA seeker. These new sensors allow for better detection capabilities as well as better filtering.

Another overall advantage of the MICA NG is that it became resilient to US imposed International Traffic in Arms Regulation, boosting it’s export prospects.

(Source: 33,34,35,36, 40)

This example from the motor’s manufacturer demonstrates how the missile would retain the same body but instead use more propellants, particularly because of compressed electronics. It is not exactly known how much more propellant is included, especially with the extension of the motor to include a second booster.

SOURCES:

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  1. EDR Magazine Issue No. 46 july-august 2019 by EDR Magazine - Issuu (Page 23-24)

  2. https://gdailynews.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/331.pdf (RDY2 can lock onto the eight that represent the greatest threat and determines launch parameters for four radar-homing MICA EM missiles simultaneously, target prioritization is carried out automatically. No restriction on combination of MICA missiles.)

  3. DOC_2.pdf - Google Drive (Page 114) (Passive dual waveband seeker)

  4. https://omnirole-rafale.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Fox-3-11.pdf (Page 4& 5) (lofting, datalink, mid-course correction, LOBL, LOAL, over-the-shoulder, IR works in conjunction with Rafale’s FSO, everything about the MICA IR and MICA EM are the same except the seekers)

  5. mmrca-the-contending-air-to-air-missiles_compress.pdf - Google Drive (Page 65) (LOAL, LOBL, IRST lock, IR seeker utilized for discrete optronics, IR seeker works in conjunction with radar, 50% of pilots unaware they were under attack)

  6. Copy of 090819_GCC_Iran_AirPower.pdf - Google Drive (Page 75) (EM- J band, IR - Dual Band, 12kg warhead)

  7. Rafale-Aircraft–the-Untold-Story–Part-II.pdf - Google Drive (Length, Diameter, Warhead, Maximum range)

  8. D84E-MICA_Seeker (1).pdf - Google Drive (Primary source, Gimbal angles, track rate)

  9. https://www.vayuaerospace.in/Issue/vayu-issue-Vayu-Issue-I-Jan-Feb-2019.pdf (Seeker of the MICA IR may also be utilised for discrete optronics monitoring prior to launch)

  10. http://www.loneflyer.com/2017/05/10/mbda-mica/ (Engine duration, scanning angle of EM, sensor resistant to IRCM/DIRCM, radar/IRST conjunction, tracking rate, lofting, short-medium-long ranges)

  11. https://omnirole-rafale.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Fox-3-10.pd f (References lofting mechanism, IR-datalink,)

  12. https://omnirole-rafale.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Fox-3-09.pdf (Radar conjunction for IR)

  13. https://omnirole-rafale.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Fox-3-05.pdf (IR-multi-target)

  14. July 24 1995 | Aviation Week (IR max range of 80km)

  15. MBDA MICA EM/ IR [in french] (Further description of various range modes)

  16. 1043305.pdf - Google Drive (Dual band infrared imaging, page 3)

  17. Google Books (Dual waveband imaging infrared, multi-target for both sensors)

  18. https://www.mbda-systems.com/?action=force-download-attachment&attachment_id=15322 (PRIMARY - IRST conjuction, LOBL, LOAL, radar conjuction, datalink)

  19. October 23 1995 | Aviation Week (90 degree HOBS with Sextant Helmet, Range, 50G)

  20. https://www.mbda-systems.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/VERTICAL-LAUNCH-MICA.pdf (Manueverability for ground launched configuration)

  21. http://neweb-eurosae.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/R_Carpentier_Missiles_tactiques.pdf

  22. https://omnirole-rafale.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Fox-3-02.pdf (MICA firing of both EM and IR simultaneously is possible)

23.https://sps-aviation.com/ebook/87082011.pdf (On Mirage 2000-5, RDY can guide 4 missiles onto targets)

  1. https://mags.shephardmedia.com/HB-samples-2018/RS2-webmag.pdf (On Mirage 2000-5, RDY can guide several missiles onto targets.)

  2. August 30 1993 | Aviation Week Page 16 (Ability to discriminate and pursue a target, multitargeting)

  3. 804 (1).pdf - Google Drive
    (MICA-IR multi-target, Focal point detector)

  4. Unclassified--FBIS Daily Report--West Europe : United States Foreign Broadcast Information Service : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive (MICA missile discrimination/multi-target)

  5. MBDA lance le nouveau système de défense aérienne VL MICA NG - Newsroom MBDA (Single pulse for MICA, dual pulse for MICA NG) (MICA NG has AESA [EM] and Matrix sensor [IR])

  6. https://www.mbda-systems.com/?action=force-download-attachment&attachment_id=16353 (MICA IR + EM capable of attacking anti-ship missiles + bombs)

  7. HIDDEN

  8. https://www.mbda-systems.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020-VL-MICA-datasheet.pdf (MICA effective against low signature targets)

  9. VL-MICA-SEA1 (2).pdf - Google Drive (MICA effective against anti-ship ordnances regardless of seekers)

  10. https://www.roxelgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/brochure-2021-roxel-uk-web.pdf (Differences in propellant for MICA vs MICA NG shown as an example)

  11. https://euro-sd.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/ESD_11-12_2020_WEB.pdf (Differences and similarity of NG and earlier generation)

  12. 2021-02-23-Egypt-becomes-the-first-international-customer-for-MBDAs-VL-MICA-NG (1).pdf - Google Drive (New bipulse motor stated to provide additional energy at end of flight)

  13. JUNE 17-30 2019 | Aviation Week

  14. http://www.academie-air-espace.com/upload/doc/ressources/COMAERO 05_1 - Carpentier Equipements I.pdf](http://www.academie-air-espace.com/upload/doc/ressources/COMAERO%2005_1%20-%20Carpentier%20Equipements%20I.pdf (In-flight updating of every 1-2 seconds)

  15. http://www.academie-air-espace.com/upload/doc/ressources/COMAERO 03 - Carpentier Missiles tactiques.pdf](http://www.academie-air-espace.com/upload/doc/ressources/COMAERO%2003%20-%20Carpentier%20Missiles%20tactiques.pdf Arrays of IR-CCD focal plane detectors.

  16. https://euro-sd.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/ESD_4_2021_WEB.pdf MICA NG to intercept conventional targets such as aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship and cruise missiles at longer distances.

  17. http://kovy.free.fr/temp/rafale/pdf/DASSAULT_fox3_20.pdf ITAR Resilience for MICA missiles.

  18. https://www.vayuaerospace.in/Issue/vayu-issue-Vayu-Issue-II-Mar-Apr-2017.pdf IR/EM datalink. Dual use surface/air.

  19. 5.88 MB folder on MEGA MICA NG descriptions.

  20. https://www.defense.gouv.fr/en/node/4458 MICA is refurbished and placed on Mirage 2000D. Link-16 MICA missile.

  21. https://archives.defense.gouv.fr/dga/actualite/la-direction-generale-de-l-armement-commande-la-realisation-des-missiles-mica-ng.html Refurbished MICA to be used on Mirage 2000D.

  22. Google Books Rafale OSF can fire MICA IR.

  23. https://gwern.net/doc/technology/2004-fry.pdf MICA/RJ

  24. 19 KB file on MEGA IR missile performance

  25. 24.5 KB file on MEGA EM missile performance

  26. 17.21 MB file on MEGA MICA EM likely gimbal limitations taken from Cyrano IV manual for Super 530F.

  27. https://youtu.be/Acxj1DNBqe0?si=jpVoPyFsi2Z1wbdW&t=510 Video proof of MICA missile lofting

  28. https://youtu.be/lekxozJ02y4?si=0VgRW_LJUt_wvEg_ Presentation on MICA NG

Thanks to LeGrandSarrazin, WreckingAres, nxdefiant, and Adrien94 for their efforts.

Related threads for more reading:

https://forum.warthunder.com/t/dassault-rafale-variants-characteristics-armament-and-performance/2873

https://forum.warthunder.com/t/mirage-2000-thread-variants-performance-characteristics-and-sources/1931

24 Likes

What a great documentation with very detailed and well explained information. I’d almost feel bad for the people who’ll have to face it but considering how France is treated/mocked beeing able to get back at mean players with such a weapon will be very fun.

14 Likes

That’s if they don’t gimp the MICAs. They still haven’t fixed the Super 530D still which should dominate the AIM-7F/M outright in every way (manueverability, seeker range, kinetic performance/speed)

11 Likes

Statistik)

Maybe if they give Mirage 2000-5F to China too, they won’t dare gimp the MICA ))))))

5 Likes

Bro if they do that i go to court against gaijin idc

2 Likes

I guess gaijin might be consider MICA IR with Rafale C F2 Q4 2024 or Q3 2025, and consider Rafale M F2 Q4 2025 or Q4 2026

Who knows what Gaijin will do, they surprise me sometimes.

1 Like

Ah maybe

Or dev maybe surprise consider modern IR AAM MICA IR this year, really ?

I hope they’ll be added this year. The fact they even acknowledged advanced radar missiles with the J-8F blog is a great sign.

About the propulsion of the MICA :
From this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2VOrScIlQE
We can see at 25sec a launch of a MICA missile, from it we can see that the missile is launched at 31 sec IRL and that the main booster stop at 34 sec IRL meening a 3 second booster time.
We can then see a sustainer for at least 2.5 sec before the video is cut.

From this video we can also calculate a 3sec booster time from IR footage (starting at 11sec)

If we take your source (10) it says that the engine has a 6 second duration meaning the sustainer is only 3 sec long.

From this presentation at EURONAVAL 2012 we have this picture stating a DELTA-V for the MICA of only 750M/S

But on the other hand we have this site :

Which state that the VL-MICA has a max speed of MACH 3 and so a Delta-V of around 1000M/S
The 1000M/S figures is more plausible since the missile is supposed to achieve twice the range of the SUPER 530D (40 VS 80km) and the SUPER 530D has a Delta-V of 960 M/S.

So the 750M/S migth me the gas ejection velocity and not the missile speed.

3 Likes

While we talk about propulsion, here’s a graph that represent the advantage a dual thrust motor has over a single thrust one (aka for the MICA NG VS MICA).
image

You can see that a dual thrust has a lot more range and can activate the second thrust at the best possible time to achieve maximum energy at the time of interception*

*At maximum altitude for long range missile shot to achieve maximum range and 10’s of seconds before impact for short/ medium range shot.

3 Likes

Considering their BIAS level sometimes it’s not impossible they’d like to add R77T to Russia, like, relatively soon like next year so Mica IR may come to Mirage 2000-5 as a countermeasure before they release Rafale.

4 Likes

But MICA IR it comparable to R-73M & ASRAAM ? and you guess J-8F get PL-5E replace PL-5B Q3 ?

I hope gaijin consider advanced IR AAM MICA IR with Rafale C & M F2 2026 because Rafale M LF1, Rafale C & M F1 no MICA IR

Bro MICA are in no way comparable to these missiles it’s more of a python 5 with boosted range than any of these.

1 Like

Videos of the missile launch do not provide good context for altitude, temperature, etc. The boost time is also adjusted in war thunder because the thrust ramps up and then ramps down as it is ignited and burns out. As an example, the R-24 missile in real life will burn for approximately 5 seconds but does so only for 3 seconds in-game at a certain thrust to account for the fact that Gaijins missiles turn on and are immediately at full thrust and then turn off after their “working period”.

Essentially, the burn time and boost / sustain phases are irrelevant from the video footage for the MICA unless we have an actual kinematic range graph to go off of.

1 Like

R-77T. What? It’s rockets does not exist

1 Like

It’s a proto but knowing gaijin they could add such crap because otherwise their IR missiles wouldn’t be able to remain on par with missiles such as MICA IR, IRIS T, Pythons 5 or AIM9X because even late versions of R73 cannot pull as much as those missiles.

Hey, nice find on that presentation, but old numbers for MICA missiles shouldn’t be trusted because MBDA has often understated the performance of MICA missiles early on.

For instance, take a look at this, it’s an old wayback saved page of MBDA that stated VL MICA’s range was only 12km. But now we have more detailed info from MBDA today.

And then take a look at this.

50G at 7km, 30G by 12km, and then 20km max range for VL MICA
https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/955829235493273680/1130191686199423068/MICAAerodynamics.jpg

Also, the 50G only works when the missile is still thrust vectoring. A 1000m/s or 750m/s acceleration for only 3 seconds is not possible to still have the missile’s motor burning by 7km away in a ground-launched configuration.

Furthermore, the Czechoslovakian military did an estimate of several missiles, and one of them being the MICA missile, they estimated that the burn time was around 6 seconds and it had a 1,100 m/s speed.

https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/955829235493273680/1130193860795039765/ModellingMissile.jpg?width=1198&height=577

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/955829235493273680/1130193860480487635/engineruntime.jpg

Also, watch this video with the timestamp provided starting at 24 seconds. It provides real-time info at the top, so you can count the missile’s burntime. You can see the missile’s motor burning for 6 seconds.

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/955829235493273680/1130194301083725955/6seconds.jpg

5 Likes

We know also that the regular MICA is single boost only, and no sustainer. It seems like MICA’s engine is low-smoke after a few seconds because the Rafale’s TV sensor can’t pick it up anymore.

1 Like