Sea Ceptor missile test firing complete at sea

As the Royal Navy successfully completes tests on the Sea Ceptor air defence system, Forces Network takes a look at what it can do.

The crew of Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll undertook the tests, and it will now proceed on to the next stage of acceptance into service. 

But what about the new Sea Ceptor missiles?


Sea Ceptor Missile - Forces Network infographic

Brought in to replace the Sea Wolf missiles on the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates, they can travel much further before hitting a target.

Sea Ceptors are described as having a range 'in excess of 25 kilometres (15.15 miles)', as opposed to the 1–10 km of their predecessors, although IHS Jane's reports that trials have a shown a capability of up to 60 km.

Speed remains the same, at 1,020 m/s (3x speed of sound), although a high rate of fire allows attacks against multiple simultaneous targets, while mid-course guidance via a datalink gives the ability to hit targets, not in the line of sight.

Sea Ceptor missiles, which were fired for the first time in successful trials earlier this year, will form part of the protection for the new aircraft carriers, protecting an area about 500 square miles over land or sea.

The missiles, which can intercept and destroy enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds, can also be packed tightly, with up to four taking up the space taken by one Sea Wolf.

The system was launched from HMS Argyll, off the coast of Scotland in September.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll, Commander Toby Shaughnessy, described it as an "impressive" system at the time. He said:

"This is an exciting upgrade in capability and a great opportunity for HMS Argyll to demonstrate what the missile system can do to protect our ships from future threats.

"Sea Ceptor is an impressive and innovative system, demonstrating that the Royal Navy is at the cutting edge of technology and working hard to keep Britain safe."

"I am immensely proud of my ship's company and the work they put in to make this test firing possible."

The system is designed to provide the Royal Navy with an improved shield against airborne threats such as the new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles, fast jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

"Sea Ceptor will protect our interests against threats both known and unknown.

"It will launch from the Royal Navy's new Type 26 frigates as they keep our nuclear deterrent submarines and the UK's two new aircraft carriers safe on operations around the globe.

"Sea Ceptor supports 600 UK jobs and is yet another example of how our rising defence budget is being spent on cutting-edge kit to help our Armed Forces meet future threats."

Sea Ceptor launch from HMS Argyll.
Credit: MBDA Copyright 2017

Sea Ceptor supports around 600 UK jobs in locations across such as Stevenage, Filton and Bolton.

Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer for the MOD's procurement organisation Defence Equipment and Support, said:

"The firings are an important step forward in proving the significant improvements over previous air defence systems and further evidence of our commitment to provide the very best equipment to our Armed Forces."

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