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The British Army is to get a new ground-based air defense missile to replace the aging Rapier system following the signing of a development and manufacture deal by the Defense Ministry and MBDA last month.

MBDA, which is a consolidated company comprising a merger between Matra Defense and BAE Dynamics back in 1996, is one of Europe’s largest missiles developers. BAE Systems and Airbus each own 37.5 percent of MBDA. Finmeccanica owns the remaining 25 percent.

According to Defense News, the contract for the land-based Future Local Area Air Defense System (FLAADS) has yet to be publicly announced, but a source at MoD confirmed a program worth £228 million (US $343 million) had been signed with Europe’s leading missile maker just before Christmas.

FLAADS uses the same MBDA common anti-air modular missile as the weapon already ordered by the Royal Navy as part of the Sea Ceptor system being fitted initially to Type 23 frigates.

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MBDA's land-variant of the Future Local Area Air Defense-System. Image: courtesy of MBDA.
MBDA’s land-variant of the Future Local Area Air Defense-System. Image: courtesy of MBDA.

The ongoing FLAADS assessment phase work is looking at other parts of the ground-based requirement such as command and control, vehicle type and other equipment required for the land environment.

According to the MoD source, quoted in Defense News, the MoD “anticipated the introduction of FLAADS into service towards the end of the decade.”

One of the first deployments for the truck-based missile system could be to bolster British air defense in the Falklands. The weapon has been mandated by the MoD for inclusion in a new ground-based air defense system planned for the islands.

An early demonstration vehicle showed a vertical launch system mounted on a MAN truck.

It should also be noted that Thales and MBDA recently signed two letters of intent for cooperation with their local partner Wojskowe Zakłady Uzbrojenia (WZU) as part of a joint bid for Poland’s Wisla air defense system, the defense electronics company said Monday.

Poland is looking to order a medium-range missile defense system, with European partners Thales and MBDA competing with Raytheon, which is offering the Patriot weapon.