Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll recently carried out a test firing of the Sea Ceptor missile to verify the weapon system upgrade.
The first firings of Sea Ceptor were conducted from HMS Argyll at the Hebrides range off the coast of Scotland and involved firing the system to assess its performance against a range of scenarios.
During the firings the system was first tested against single aerial targets. This was 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.
The new missile defence system will provide UK personnel with a shield against airborne targets – including hostile combat jets and helicopters, as well enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.
Designed and manufactured by MBDA in the UK, Sea Ceptor is being fitted to replace the Sea Wolf weapon system on the Type 23 frigates and will provide the same capability for the Royal Navy’s future Type 26 Frigates.
Sea Ceptor defends escort vessels within a maritime task group, such as for the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, and with HMS Argyll due to deploy to Japan next year, the trials successfully showcased the short range capabilities of the new defence system. Another Type 23, HMS Sutherland, is due to deploy to Australia in the New Year.
The system uses a new UK-developed missile, the Common Anti-air Modular Missile or CAMM, that is capable of reaching speeds of up to three times the speed of sound, and will have the ability to deal with multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of around 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometres) over land or sea.
“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,” Lieutenant Nick Andrews, HMS Westminster’s anti-air-warfare officer, said.
The results of the firings are now being evaluated by the Royal Navy and results so far show that Sea Ceptor is capable of protecting both the ship which fired it and other ships in its task group, which could include the UK’s two new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers.