Italian Navy new anti-ship Teseo Mk2/E missile will be equipped with an AESA seeker

By Luca Peruzzi

The new Teseo Mk2/E anti-ship missile will have a new generation AESA (active electronically scanned array)-based seeker as part of the terminal guidance dual mode head section also including an E/O sensor for high-precision sea and land target engagements. “The Italian Navy has expressed the intention to proceed with the activation of the contractual option to equip the Teseo Mk2/E, currently under development, with a new generation AESA-based radio-frequency (RF) seeker”, Lorenzo Mariani, Managing Director MBDA Italia and Executive Group Director Sales and Business Development MBDA, said on December 20, during the year-end informal meeting with Italian media representatives. “This decision represents a key milestone in the development of the weapon system and the national sovereignty defence developments to be offered for future international partnerships”, Mariani added, acknowledging the new seeker is a joint-development by MBDA and Leonardo, where MBDA is prime contractor and design authority, without providing further details. EDR On-Line understood the new generation seeker sees Leonardo as provider of the AESA antenna and MBDA Italia of the wideband digital receiver/processing back-end and overall integration.

As anticipated for the first time by the MBDA representative during the 2020 results media conference last April, the contract signed in November 2020 for the design, development, testing, qualification and industrialization of the new weapon system included a feasibility study to verify the possibility to equip the Teseo Mk2/E with an AESA seeker, as the preferred solution compared to a solid-state coherent RF system. According to Mariani, the feasibility study has already, and in advance to planned schedule, confirmed that the new generation AESA seeker development and integration is compatible with the weapon system programme requirements and schedule. The same study also provided the best architectural and technical solutions to be selected by the Italian MoD Naval Armaments Directorate.

The Italian MoD is expected to soon complete the necessary procedures and award the contract option, launching the new seeker development, testing and evaluation activities by MBDA Italia to be completed in around three years time. These activities are phased with the weapon system development, test and qualification programme that, together with the industrialization phase, is to be completed in 2026.

The decision to go ahead with the new generation AESA seeker for the Teseo Mk2/E represents not only a national sovereignty and technological breakthrough, allowing a key capability to be offered to international programmes, such as the FC/ASW (Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon), to which the Italian MoD has shown interest, but a significant milestone in the development of the MBDA Italia and the MBDA group’s Fusaro seeker centre of excellence, providing a game-changer know-how to be applied to its present and future family of anti-ship and other missile systems.

Photo by L. Peruzzi