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Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has announced three new missile contracts worth a combined £539 million for Meteor, the Common Anti-air Modular Missile and Sea Viper missile systems at MBDA.

According to a press release, the order breakdown is as follows:

As part of a £41 million contract, the Meteor air-to-air missiles will arm the UK’s F-35B Lightning II squadrons. It will provide the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy with a world beating missile that can engage with targets moving at huge speed and at a very long range.

The weapon will enter service on Typhoon with the RAF in 2018 and the F-35B from 2024, and will be used on a range of missions including protecting the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers.

Meanwhile, a £175 million in-service support contract for the anti-air Sea Viper weapon system will ensure that the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyers can continue to provide unparalleled protection from air attack to the extended fleet.

Under the contract, the missiles will be maintained, repaired and overhauled as and when required to ensure continued capability. The Sea Viper missile defends ships against multiple threats, including missiles and fighter aircraft.

The final contract is a £323 million deal to purchase the next batch of cutting-edge air defence missiles for the British Army and Royal Navy, offering increased capability at a lower cost. Designed and manufactured by MBDA UK at sites in Bolton, Stevenage and Henlow, the next-generation CAMM missile will provide the Armed Forces with missiles for use on sea and on land. CAMM has the capability to defend against anti-ship cruise missiles, aircraft and other highly sophisticated threats. Signalling our continued investment in Type 26 programme, CAMM will provide the anti-air defence capability on the new Type 26 Frigates for the Royal Navy and will also form part of the Sea Ceptor weapon system on the Type 23 Frigate and will also enhance the British Army’s Ground Based Air Defence capability by replacing the in-service Rapier system.

 

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

“Work on these cutting-edge missiles, which will help to protect the UK at home and abroad and secure jobs across the country, demonstrates the importance of Defence investment.

That is why, working closely with our industry partners, we continue to drive innovation and value into everything we do; securing next generation equipment for our Armed Forces at the best possible value for the taxpayer.”

Dave Armstrong, Managing Director of MBDA UK, added:

“MBDA is delighted by the continued trust placed in us by the Ministry of Defence and the British military. The contracts announced today for Meteor, CAMM and Sea Viper will help protect all three UK Armed Services, providing them with new cutting-edge capabilities and ensuring their current systems remain relevant for the future.

They will also help to secure hundreds of high-skilled people at MBDA UK and in the UK supply chain, maintaining the UK’s manufacturing base and providing us with a platform for exports.”

35 COMMENTS

  1. All good but I would have really liked to have seen an additional CAMM announcement to complete the anti-air good news. Does anyone know what the plans are for CAMM-ER? That would be a nice extra capability to have but I’m not sure whether it has been given any development funding yet and whether it is anything more than a paper concept right now.

    • Yer, I think the Italians are pressing ahead with CAMM-ER, we don’t seem interested.

      I think due to weight size vs kinematic performance and the fact that we have developed the launchers \ ships etc etc etc for basic CAMM, its not something we will go for any time soon.

      25km + is a nice area to cover.

      Plus one day CAMM is going back to its roots to replace ASRAAM.

      As a common sized missile there are huge savings to be made financially and logistically.

      However I know what your saying CAMM-ER does look good.

    • David – Someone on another forum did a quick and dirty calculation based on MK41 launch tube and CAMM-ER canister diameters and came to the conclusion that CAMM-ER should also quad-pack quite easily.

      Beno – re having developed launchers/ships for basic CAMM, point taken but somewhere deep down I still hold this vague hope that someone might be specifying our CAMM launchers with enough space to also accommodate a CAMM-ER canister one day. With soft launch all the complex launch stuff is in the canister that comes with the missile rather than fixed to the ship so, at least as I understand it, accommodating CAMM-ER in the future is really only a matter of making sure that the ship design has enough space for a slightly longer and broader set of dumb pipes that the ER canisters can fit into, plus the stability margins for the extra weight of course.

      Having said all that, I am a big fan of basic CAMM and agree that 25+ km range is still very respectable. For protecting a singleton ship (i.e. no friendly AWACS assets in the area) against a sea-skimming missile that’s about the radar range to the horizon anyway so the non-ER range is all that could be used anyhow.

  2. One additional capacity that Sea Ceptor offers is an ASuW capability.
    Small, fast moving boats are going to be an a real threat to larger vessels, any extra defence against this is important.

    • Jack – I was under the impression that Dual Mode Brimstone had already proved its worth in batch launches against several small sea going targets back in 2012. It even selected the enemy boats amongst ‘friendlies’ in the tests.
      https://youtu.be/rsZG1-MnMvc

      • Also, MBDA has shown models of SPEAR 3 with a booster for a VLS configuration and I’m pretty sure that I read somewhere that the plan was for it to use the same VLS soft-launch tubes as Sea Ceptor. I know that even baseline SPEAR 3 is still a way off so a soft-launch VLS version would be even further out but if it came to be it would be a hugely valuable addition to our ships’ armament options – it would be great against small surface craft, useful against larger vessels for a potential mission-kill rather than sinking, and even offer some level of very low yield but high precision land attack without needing MK41.

    • Another £539m? Hasn’t all this work been done already? It’s all over the MBDA brochures.

      I’ve been trying to find out the fuel weight of the CAMM. 99kg total, 10kg warhead, 39kg? missile, 50kg fuel? If so then a mach 1 version instead of mach 3 could have the same range but only need say 20kg fuel. This would create space for a 40kg warhead which would make a good ASuW missile like Sea Suka / Sea Venom but with the integration of the CAMM air and surface launch.

      If we had CAMM Air and CAMM Surface, we could ditch the Sea Venom and SPEAR 3 programes. They are both planning on delivering a 100kg ASuW missile also needing integration and long term funding.

      • Almost none of the £539m is for integration & development. The article breaks it down but most of the money is either for in-life ongoing maintenance contracts (on Sea Viper) or buying more missiles (Sea Ceptor, presumably for the ongoing conversion of T23s eventually to be cross-decked to T26).

        Re CAMM Suface I’m no expert but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if changing the tradeoff between fuel and warhead entailed what would essentially be a total redesign due to changes in density distribution resulting in needing structural changes, needing to re-certify separation aerodynamics, and changes in the way the centre of gravity varies over time (as fuel is burned but warhead weight stays constant) changing the flight software and maybe even requiring significant redesign of the control surfaces and/or thrust vectoring mechanisms (I’m not sure exactly what is involved in keeping a Sea Ceptor on course). They’d quite possibly end up pretty much designing a new missile anyway and it would end up being nothing like Spear 3 which is going to have something like a 100km range.

        If Spear 3 VLS also happens that sort of range even gives the potential for special forces observation teams being able to call in an opportunist strike on a land target of interest (temporary command centre, high value individual, etc) from a non-Mk41 equipped vessel comfortably outside territorial waters, perhaps with NSM as an alternative slightly heavier and longer range option as target nature and location dictate. I would be very disappointed it something got in the way of Spear 3 development because I can see the pieces coming together for a T31 without Mk41 being affordable (which, if government promises are kept, should lead to an increase in overall escort numbers) and still be genuinely useful for many scenarios against a non-peer adversary.

        • I take your points about design difficulties with CAMM variants but Spear 3 is built on a 45kg Brimstone with a 9kg warhead. They’ve added wings and lots more fuel to total 100kg which is why it does 100km. It’s basically a mach 1 CAMM without the fuel-warhead substitution I suggested above.

          We need much more strategic thinking with our missiles otherwise it’s duplication of development and integration or limited missile use like no surface launcher for Sea Venom.

  3. (Meteor air-to-air ) “and the F-35B from 2024”

    First thought is that this makes a 3 year gap from the first planned deployment of F35Bs on the QE carriers, supposedly a squadron, in 2021.

  4. £175 million for sea viper support seems a bit steep. Obviously do not know how many aster 15 and 30 missiles we have but we would need to have several hundred (400+) to justify this level of expenditure.
    meteor is a world winning missile likely to secure very large overseas sales. Japan, US, Australia, South Korea all interested in this very capable weapon.

  5. It will be a big capability jump once we get the land version up and running. Rapier is pretty useless unless up against a helicopter or sub sonic jet, mainly due to range issues.

  6. Stuck record; no sea ceptor for carriers. Bothered, very very bothered. UK 🇬🇧 would be unique in 🌎 allowing a carrier to set sail without such capability. Capable escorts there may be but accidents happen, engine problems occur and there’s always the enemy….

    Bothered 😕

    • agreed – 4 rolling air frames (1 for each corner) that cost £1m each are hardly going to break the bank. This is a major mistake that once again belies the poor management of the RN. Where are the leadership in all this pointing out a fairly simple calculation, spend 4-10m to protect something that costs £4bn. Blimey its bordering on a farce under Fallon.

      • Agreed – 💯! As it stands QE doesn’t even have 4 Phalanx – only 3. Are all firing arcs really covered with just 3?? I am no admiral but I think not! British defence done on the cheap – as always!!

  7. Farce is the word. RAM system and a containerised sea ceptor system combined would add a layered defence to the carriers enabling much much better defence against a saturation missile attack. Total price for both carriers £20 million.
    an easy and prudent win especially important when we have inadequate numbers of escort warships.
    Fallon needs to lay off the spun and start adding some actual capabilities and armament to the armed forces rather than constant cut backs and money wasted.

    • I suspect the real price is probably way higher.

      The carriers are designed around minimising crew requirements. Maybe the decision was taken that adding defensive missiles would require too many additional sailors. It is a very odd decision not to include them and so there has to be a logic beyond saving 20m.

  8. In a ‘hot war’ with saturation ordnance being lobbed at an alpha target like a carrier group, the availablity of Camm, fire and forget, palletised units will radically alter the whole scope of the operational range and tactics of any RN/NATO offensive action. What would be the safety margins and physical constraints of lashing just about as many units to suitable superstructure and even in extremis towing additional capacity and/or operating drone surface corvettes carrying sufficient capacity to deal with multiple attacks.

    I know Iam painting an extreme scenario, but if needs must! On the other hand am I stretching the revolutionary utility of Camm beyond its limitations.

  9. I just think the MOD have their heads in the sand and are ignoring the carriers huge size and thus ability to easily hold additional weaponry.
    a containerised sea ceptor/ CAMM onto both carriers with a 24 cell container would be £10 million per carrier.
    RAM is cheap but very short ranged and is just a CIWS really. However one fir each corner of the carriers would only cost £4 million per carrier.
    I would also love to see the carriers deploying the new Italian anti torpedo/ mine defensive rocket system fitted to their FREMM class frigates. Cost would be £10 million per carrier. So for just less than £50 million our £7 billion carriers would be much better protected. This is especially important to do now considering our lack of escort warships, the proliferation of saturation missiles being developed by Russia and China and the ever improving conventional ssks designs and ssns being built by Russia and China currently.

  10. I think the initial operating capability of the F35B will be Asraam and Amraam. Meteor will be coming along and the icing on the cake in the near future. Asraam and Amraam are both highly capable and able to do the job required until meteor comes along.

  11. Just a thought – I wonder if the USMC will pressure HMG to properly arm the QE carriers with self-defence systems (CAMM, SeaRAM). I can’t believe they will be too happy embarking their F-35s and associated crew on a carrier that is – let’s face it- almost defenceless on its own. Especially as they too know how few escorts we have to protect them.

    • The carriers will never be deployed without a T45 with its PAAMS/Sea Viper system. Lets assume a T23/26 will also be on escort duty when the carrier is in harms way. That gives a layered protection of F35B, Sea Viper, Sea Ceptor and networked CIWS. I would have thought that was enough and ensures the carriers’ decks are maximised for strike power (assuming we have enough aircraft of course).

      We do however need more destroyers with Sea Viper to counter supersonic missile threats.

    • After what happened in Afgan, the USMC will not permit their jets on our decks without multiple US escort ships, so in a way that helps us as we won’t have enough on our own.

      • Hey Steve,

        If true, how equally sad and pathetically embarrassing is that….. Looks like Fallon and his 178Bn is fooling no-one – not even the Americans believe him!

      • US have 10 super carriers and 10 USMC carriers. I don’t think they will ever do a proper mission on a QE without one of their own as well.

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