MBDA and Lockheed Martin have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that seeks to integrate European missiles with the American MK41 Vertical Launch System.
Up to now, both the MK41 and its European counterpart, the Systeme de Lancement Vertical (SYLVER) system, were only compatible with essentially American and European missiles respectively.
This despite the fact that both systems are very similar in principle. Both are hot-launched and share a common central exhaust. Both also come in various lengths for ships of different displacements.
This clear division meant that once a ship was fitted with the MK41 VLS, it is unable to use any MBDA missiles and vice versa. It is either American or European and not both at the same time. This is not an ideal situation.
The UK's Type 45 destroyer is equipped with SYLVER and can't use the Standard series of surface-to-air missiles or Tomahawk cruise missiles. At one point, there were suggestions that it would be better to equip the Type 45 with the MK41.
The attempts to try to fuze American and European systems is therefore a welcome development. It should help better utilize the respective strengths of both sides.
It may help break other barriers, such as integration of SYLVER with American missiles. That will mean that both MK41 and SYLVER users will be able to select the type of missiles that best fit their needs.
The first missile to be integrated will be the naval variant of the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile Maritime (CAMM-M) or Sea Ceptor, which will be demonstrated with a test launch later in 2013.
The CAMM series of missiles are derived from the ASRAAM air-to-air missiles. Other MBDA missiles from MBDA are the Aster 15, Aster 30, Aster NT and Scalp Naval.