A ‘major milestone’ has been reached for the Royal Navy as the first firing trials of the new Sea Ceptor air defence system have been completed successfully.
The Ministry of Defence announced the trial’s completion that the tests had been verified by a second ship fitted with the Sea Ceptor also firing successfully.
The Sea Ceptor missiles were launched at Scotland’s Hebrides Rocket Range from Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll.
The missile defence system will provide a powerful shield against airborne targets such as hostile combat jets and helicopters.
The system will also be able to intercept and destroy enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.
The Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin explained why this new technology is important for the UK:
“In the face of intensifying global threats, cutting-edge systems like Sea Ceptor will keep the UK safe.
“Work to develop and install Sea Ceptor across the Royal Navy is also boosting British industry, supporting 600 jobs in the Bristol, Stevenage and Bolton areas.”
She also heralded the tests as a, “a major milestone towards the introduction of this world-class missile system into service for the Royal Navy.”
During the firings the system was first tested against single aerial targets. This was then followed by 'more demanding tests', including a single target engaged by two missiles and a twin firing (two targets, each engaged by a single missile at the same time).
An installation test firing from HMS Westminster, the second ship fitted with Sea Ceptor, took place in November, with each of the Type 23 ships due to carry out installation test firings in due course.
HMS Westminster’s Anti-Air-Warfare Officer said:
“HMS Westminster managed to explore the real potential of the system during her training and to say it is a real game changer is an understatement.
“Unlike its predecessor, the system is capable of defending ships other than Westminster herself.
Whether it’s engaging multiple air threats or fast incoming attack craft, Sea Ceptor represents a massive capability upgrade for the Type 23 frigate.”
The system uses the new UK-developed Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM).
The missile is capable of reaching extraordinary speeds of up to three times the speed of sound.
CAMM will also be able to cope with multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of around 500 square miles over land or sea.
The defence system will defend escort vehicles within a maritime task group.
The new Queen Elizabeth class carriers and HMS Argyll are both examples of such ships.
HMS Argyll is due to deploy to Japan next year while other Type 23, HMS Sutherland is due to deploy to Australia.