UK — Royal Navy’s Sea Viper missile system hits its target

The Roy­al Navy’s newest air defence mis­sile, designed to arm the Navy’s new fleet of Type 45 destroy­ers, has suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ed its tough­est test yet dur­ing tri­als in the Mediter­ranean. Report by Sal­ly May.

Sea Viper missile is fired during recent trials
Sea Viper mis­sile is fired dur­ing recent tri­als
Source: MBDA
Click to enlarge

Sea Viper, the ground­break­ing mis­sile sys­tem pre­vi­ous­ly called PAAMS until it was renamed by the Roy­al Navy, will set new stan­dards in air defence. 

And, dur­ing recent test-fir­ings from the UK tri­als barge Long­bow in the Mediter­ranean, the sys­tem achieved a direct hit in a sal­vo (mul­ti­ple mis­siles) fir­ing against a manoeu­vrable sea-skim­ming tar­get trav­el­ling at hun­dreds of miles an hour. 

Sea Viper is capa­ble of defend­ing the Type 45 and ships in its com­pa­ny against mul­ti­ple attacks from the most sophis­ti­cat­ed ene­my air­craft or mis­siles approach­ing from any direc­tion and at super­son­ic speeds. It can even engage more than ten tar­gets simul­ta­ne­ous­ly — a huge leap in capa­bil­i­ty for the Roy­al Navy. 

Speak­ing about the recent tri­als, Richard Smart, Head of Com­plex Weapons at Defence Equip­ment and Sup­port (DE&S), said: 

“The DE&S weapons and destroy­ers teams and MBDA, along­side our inter­na­tion­al part­ners, have worked close­ly togeth­er to achieve a very suc­cess­ful tri­als out­come. We have over­come a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles and every­one involved is right­ly proud of reach­ing this milestone. 

“While there is more work to do, we are well on our way towards the first fir­ing lat­er this year from a Type 45 plat­form, Daunt­less, in sup­port of demon­strat­ing Sea Viper’s world class capa­bil­i­ty on board the Type 45 destroyers.” 

A key ele­ment of Sea Viper’s capa­bil­i­ty is the sophis­ti­cat­ed, phased-array Samp­son radar, which has a range of 400 kilo­me­tres. Its onboard posi­tion about 30 metres above the water widens its hori­zon at sea lev­el to enable the sys­tem to react to high-speed, very low-lev­el, anti-ship missiles. 

Samp­son, which was designed to the Roy­al Navy’s spe­cif­ic require­ments in the UK by BAE Sys­tems, sends a tar­get loca­tion update to the mis­sile dur­ing its flight which then uses thrusters pow­er­ful enough to shift the mis­sile side­ways sev­er­al metres to bring the war­head into range of even manoeu­vring targets. 

Realistic warfare scenarios were put in front of HMS Daring and crew as they took part in basic operational sea training in the English Channel
Real­is­tic war­fare sce­nar­ios were put in front of HMS Dar­ing and crew as they took part in basic oper­a­tional sea train­ing in the Eng­lish Chan­nel
Source: Lead­ing Air­man (Pho­tog­ra­ph­er) James Craw­ford, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

It is the lat­est in a string of recent mile­stones for the Type 45 project which saw the sec­ond ship in the class, HMS Daunt­less, com­mis­sioned into the Roy­al Navy in June, and the fourth ship, Dia­mond, com­plete its lat­est set of sea tri­als. The land­mark launch of the final ship of the class, Dun­can, is due before the end of the year. 

Mean­while the first of the class, HMS Dar­ing, has passed basic oper­a­tional sea train­ing (BOST) that saw the ship put through her paces over sev­er­al weeks off the coast of Devon and Corn­wall to test the crew. 

Train­ing cul­mi­nates in a real­is­tic war at sea with oth­er ships, sub­marines and air­craft, where every pos­si­ble sce­nario is sim­u­lat­ed, from attack from above and below water to fires and floods. 

Com­modore Steve Brun­ton, DE&S Head of Destroy­ers, said: 

“The suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of BOST has proved that HMS Dar­ing will pro­vide the Roy­al Navy with a world class plat­form and a step change in capability. 

“Daring’s com­mand­ing offi­cer and his com­pa­ny deserve immense cred­it for achiev­ing so much dur­ing BOST, as do the Destroy­ers Team in DE&S, Navy Com­mand, and indus­try for their crit­i­cal contribution. 

“We have all learned a huge amount about Dar­ing and the Type 45 Class and my team in DE&S, in part­ner­ship with the ship’s com­pa­ny, Navy Com­mand and indus­try, are deter­mined to take for­ward all we have learned through BOST to deliv­er an even greater lev­el of per­for­mance in future.” 

In a fur­ther demon­stra­tion of progress on the Type 45, Trans­fer of Asset for HMS Daunt­less has tak­en place. 

The sec­ond of three key accep­tance events with­in the Type 45’s pro­gres­sive accep­tance pro­gramme, Trans­fer of Asset is declared when six of the nine Type 45 key user require­ments are agreed. 

The final agree­ment that all key user require­ments are met will be at the in-ser­vice date (ISD).

The first mile­stone in this accep­tance pro­gramme — Accep­tance off Con­tract — was achieved on 3 Decem­ber 2009, and the final mile­stone will be the dec­la­ra­tion of ISD

HMS Daunt­less is cur­rent­ly under­go­ing Stage 2 sea tri­als which are pro­gress­ing well. 

This report by Sal­ly May was first pub­lished in the August 2010 issue of desider — the mag­a­zine for Defence Equip­ment and Support. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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