The challenge of developing the conceptual design of the ECH Upper Launcher system for MHD control in the ITER plasmas has been tackled by team of European Associations together with the European Domestic Agency ("F4E"). The launcher system has to meet the following requirements: (a) a mm-wave system extending from the interface to the transmission line up to the target absorption zone in the plasma and performing as an intelligent antenna; (b) a structural system integrating the mm-wave system and ensuring sufficient thermal and nuclear shielding; (C) port Plug remote handling and testing capability ensuring high Port plug system availability. The paper describes the reference launcher design. The mm-wave system is composed of waveguide and quasi-optical sections with a front steering system. An automated feedback control system is developed as a concept based on an assimilation procedure between predicted and diagnosed absorption location. The structural system consists of the blanket shield module, the port plug frame, and the internal shield for appropriate neutron shielding towards the launcher back-end. The specific advantages of a double walled structure are discussed with respect to adequate baking, to rigidity towards launcher deflection under plasma-generated loads and to removal of thermal loads, including nuclear ones. Basic Studies of remote handling (RH) to validate design development are initiated using a virtual reality simulation backed by experimental validation, for which a launcher handling test facility (LHT) is set LIP as a full scale experimental site allowing furthermore thermohydraulic studies with ITER blanket water parameters. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.