A brand-new missile system at the heart of the British Army’s future air defences has completed its first successful firing trials, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced.

Trials of the new Land Ceptor weapon took place close to the Baltic Sea on a Swedish test fire range, with video footage showing a missile being launched from a vehicle and destroying an aerial target in a display of the new weapon’s accuracy and power.

Built by MBDA, Land Ceptor comprises the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM), a launcher vehicle and two fire unit support vehicles. It is being developed to protect British troops on operations from aerial threats, including hostile combat aircraft and air-launched munitions. 

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“In the face of intensifying threats, it is vital that our Armed Forces have the capabilities to keep Britain safe. Land Ceptor will be a formidable battlefield barrier, protecting our troops from strikes and enemy aircraft while on operations.”

Land Ceptor is highly mobile, can be rapidly deployed across challenging terrain, and be brought into action in less than 20 minutes say the MoD.

From the same family of weapons systems as Sea Ceptor, which will defend the Royal Navy’s Type 23 and Type 26 Frigates, Land Ceptor will provide the stopping power within the cutting-edge Sky Sabre air defence system, and will equip 16th  Regiment, Royal Artillery.

93 COMMENTS

  1. Still no mention of a number of units we will get. We should have enough of these available to protect all key military bases and radar sites incase of attack.

    • That would number at least 50 then, and arguably in the 100’s. MoD has hundreds of sites.

      They are for use by the army in the field, not home defence.

  2. the real question is will be buy enough systems to actually make a difference. we really need a good air defence system to improve our area denial capability. we must also place them at faslane base as it is vulnerable against aerial attacks.

  3. Agree with previous two comments.

    With so few sites and consolidating capabilities / facilities (1 x sub, 1 x F-35, 2 x QRA, 1 x MPA etc) it’s far too easy to take out entire capabilities at a stroke from sub launched cruise missiles.

  4. Agree with comments above
    We need enough systems to protect all our major defence sites say 15-20 complete systems needed + as many as needed for army mobile defence.
    We have spent the money developing the system now is the time to capitalise on that investment.

        • ? No.
          12 Regiment RA operate Starstreak system. 4 batteries on Stormer and 1 with LML for 16 AA Bde.

          Based alongside 16 RA at Thorney Island.

          All the air defence assets the regulars have left.

          • I think they have been quietly withdrawn from active service, per the Matsimus channel on YouTube. Quite a good channel, run by an ex British Army fella.

    • You are correct in thinking that it is smaller and this is because Land Ceptor is a short to medium range air defence system (i.e. 1km to 25+km) whereas ‘competitors’ such as the Patriot or S400 etc are more long range focused (i.e. 100km plus) and are therefore bigger partly due to extra fuel or larger warheads. Hopefully however this smaller size, greater mobility and lower cost will make Land Ceptor more attractive for export to smaller countries such as the Baltic States.

    • I’m not sure what other systems you have in mind, but it is small because the missile itself is small compared to a long range area denial system.

      • Whoops didn’t mean to repeat Chris, I wrote my comment earlier but didn’t post until just now so I didn’t see it.

        • yeah this was my point in a round about way. I don’t get why we don’t either invest in an existing platform or use astar30. It’s physically a lot bigger than rapier and so can no longer be helicopter lifted and so why not go the full way and go wide area defence.

          • Because it isn’t intended for home defence but for protecting the army on expeditionary missions where a long range system would be overkill and more expensive.

        • why overkill? in a war situation that front line can easily be wider than 25km, and forward deploying them close to the front line results in more units being needed to cover the area.

          Think afgan/Iraq, if there was a air threat there the front line would have been huge.

        • I think range is a very tricky thing with defensive missiles though because, if I’m understanding the physics of this correctly (I’m a physicist but not a military expert), the range probably depends a lot on the target being intercepted. If the target is exceptionally maneuverable and smart enough to use that maneuverability then the intercepting missile will need to shed a lot more energy doing mid-course adjustments vs the opposite extreme of hitting a barrage balloon tethered obediently somewhere in the far distance. Energy shed in directional changes is energy that isn’t available for use in extending the interception radius.

          Would it be fair to say that in a land environment the targets are less likely to be doing very aggressive high-g maneuvers of the sort that a smart incoming ASM might be doing in a maritime conflict? Helicopters aren’t going to pull high-g evasive maneuvers, combat jet to an extent but probably not to the extent of a sophisticated ASM plus they’re bigger targets, and even munitions such as a Paveway equivalent presumably don’t have the smarts to do terminal evasive maneuvering hence are on a more predictable trajectory to their target. How about more sophisticated battlefield weapons such as enemy equivalents of Brimstone? I don’t know the answer to any of the questions in this paragraph which is why I’m asking.

        • Not quite. It’s rumored the missile flew for 60 km but as Julian point out, there’s not much chance it had enough energy left after 60km to perform any serious maneuvering.

  5. All principle RAF and RN sub bases should have at least one launcher permanently established. This is would make consummate sense, as increased Russian pressure is being placed on the UK. If the cost would cripple such a scheme; I would place priority on our fast jet airfields. Naval bases could in principle use shipborne Sea Sceptors?

    • Why?
      We never allocated SAMs during the cold war or since to naval ports or bases. Deploying them has been exercised but I cannot see the point of a permanent allocation of such costly assets on a just in case basis.

      • So Gunbuster, because we failed to demonstrate principle asset protection during the Cold War; we should not deploy missile defence at strategic sites today? I don’t understand the logic of not protecting critical bases, it is pure folly not to do so. It’s a simple as that. If Russia is to respect the United Kingdom’s airspace (which it has scant regard for at the moment) deploying Ceptor would be a game changer.

        • Again when was the last time a Soviet or Russian aircraft or missile overflew a UK base?
          In case of air attack park up some missiles …. in case the Russian marines land lets stick an armored tank regiment outside Faslane…where exactly would you like that to end?
          If the threat level increases you take action. If the threat is such that there is little or no threat then you dont need to do anything …but plan for doing it if needed.

          • Now I an open minded on this and accept I am no expert on specifics but surely for most of the Cold War the danger came from Balistic missiles rather than the large number of smart weapons that are bailable today. Thus short range defensive missiles would have been pretty pointless even if some were used for base defence. The scenario now is surely very different with pinpoint threats launchable from various platforms that could theoretically launch especially from subs with little warning or known location. Not convinced that a fully tnought out defensive policy has truly been even thought out by the strategists or deemed affordable, let alone Implemented now, or in the near future.

      • Difference is submarine launched cruise missile capability which changes the game completely from the cold war.

        • The Soviet union had sub launched and air launched cruise missiles then as it does now. The AS 4 is still in service after nearly 60 years !
          How many Soviet cruise missiles or Soviet aircraft overflew UK bases on the UK mainland in the cold war or the years afterwards…er…zero.
          If tensions rise, you deploy your assets as and when you need them that’s a function of good intelligence and planning.
          Parking a complete air defense unit in a car park just in case is simply going to make targeting it oh so easy for a missile or asymmetric attack.

          • That’s a fair point on sub launched missiles though they were not carried at the scale they are being planned (up to 60) and we didn’t have the asset (human & physical) consolidation we do today. Mind you, that argues for huge resources to counter so argument accepted.

      • The UK had Bloodhound and other longer rang SAMs during part of the Cold War, up until 1991. Bloodhound had a range of about 180 kilometers, or over 110 miles.

        • Yes we did have Bloodhound that was a strategic system built to kill soviet bombers attacking the UK. It was never replaced.
          Ceptor is not a strategic system or a replacement for it.
          Bloodhound bases where large areas of fixed infrastructure not the mobile system Ceptor is.

          • So as I anticipated no long range fixed or mobile defensive screen at all, it’s relying on manned fighters, the exact opposite of what was planned/expected way back in the late 50s when the Lightening was to be the last manned fighter and long range missiles it’s replacement. Difficult to make like for like comparisons with the past.

          • Aster 30 can defend more than just one site, so I think its at least semi-strategic. Still, the UK needs a new SAM with a 150-200 km range. Aster 30 could be adapted with a larger stage for extended range. Anything to complicate a potential attackers plans is good.

        • David – back in my ATC days can just about remember being shown around the Bloodhound site at RAF Wattisham,i wonder what the site looks like now !

    • In principle, but in reality that would mean having an escort always manned and operational while its in port, which is just a tad daft. Then also consider that Faslane doesn’t have any escorts based there, just the deterrent and attack fleets.

      In terms of priority, Faslane and the Typhoons at Lossiemouth take priority, closely followed by Devonport, Portsmouth, and the radar stations around the country. Lower priority are helicopter and support bases and Marham; in the event of an attack, the Lightnings being based there can operate with a damaged or no runway.

  6. with the consolidation of bases this should be possible. We have 24 rapiers today, so assume normally approach and halve that number (twice the capability so we need less, ignoring that the threat from modern jets has also more than doubled since rapier was designed) for land ceptor, giving 12. They would just be stretched extremely thin, considering there will at least 1 in the Falklands.

    Let’s hope for a straight swap, 24 for 24.

    • I’m seriously struggling to understand why any would need to be stationed in the Falklands. Those islands seem to be sucking up more assets than are required. An OPV, Typhoons, Rapier/Land Ceptor, permanent British Army garrison, regular visits by frigates and destroyers, and possibly P8 in the future is over the top for me, considering the state of the Argentinian armed forces.

      • Its a deterrent. The Russians are deterred by Trident: the Argies are not. They know we’d never nuke them, but what they’re unsure of is if we’d have the political will to go to war over the islands again (our political leadership has become rather weak willed and fragmented as of late). So a strong conventional deterrent to lower the chance of that war in the first place is crucial on our part

        • The Argentinian air force has ceased to exist as a functioning unit.
          Pretty much the same can be said of the naval forces.
          If the Argentinian govt decided to arm up we would have enough notice to take action and to improve the defenses.

    • I’d settle for 30 or so.

      4 Batteries in 16 RA each with 6x Fire Units = 24.

      Plus the remainder in training, trials, attrition reserve, and with the Army Reserve.

      Pretty much what we have now with FSC.

      But it will probably be far less.

  7. Clearly a fantastic missile system, both naval and land versions. However, numbers bought I suspect will never be enough to defend any sites of importance on U.K. mainland. Interesting to note that article appears to suggest that it is being bought primarily for expeditionary use. So, only a few units in one regiment of artillery. We know, for example, that one unit is deployed to the Falklands. But we haven’t even been told what a fire unit consists of. How many radars? How many C2 centres? How many fire units? I suspect it’s partly to do with the modular nature of the kit and the fact that it can, presumably, be networked into any GBAD C2 system? But it is worrying that in the U.K. we continue to ignore the homeland security threat, the ballistic missile threat and that, since the demise of Thunderbird, we rely entirely on an inadequate number of Typhoons on QRA. But hey! Don’t knock it. Good news all the same.

  8. From the lastest information 24 to 32 missles system the british is buying. 24 for deploying and 8 might be training but for sure 4 is heading to the Falkland islands

  9. This system is being bought for 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, which currently has 4 deployable Batteries of Rapier FSC and an HQ Battery, REME element, and JAPPLE Unit. Each has / had 6 Rapier Fire Units.

    It is not being procured for Home Defence like some British version of the Russian Voyska PVO.

    There will probably be a few reserve systems for training with 14 RA at Larkhill and some for whatever Army Reserve Regiment is doing the Air Defence Role, I forget which.

    1 Battery of I think 6 Rapier is on ongoing rotation in the Falklands so I’d expect this to continue.

    The UK has had no home defence SAM systems since Bloodhound sites in the Cold War arrayed across Anglia and Eastern England and 2 RAF Regiment Rapier Squadrons defending Leuchars and Lossimouth. 4 other Squadrons were RAF Regiment manned and defended USAF Bases.

    • Sorry Daniele, my mistake! I meant Bloodhound of course, not Thunderbird! That was an army missile, not RAF!

      • LOL. I had not made the connection anyway. I had wondered what Thunderbird was until your comment now. Was that an Army version of Bloodhound?

        • Sort of. Contemporary and very similar technology. Except that Bloodhound was ramjet powered whilst Thunderbird was rocket powered all the way. Both very sophisticated for their time.

  10. Talking defence of military sites around home territories, would it not be cheaper and easier to just mount banks of launch tubes, or set them into the ground. They could be designated targets from our QRA control centres, and utilise existing long range radars. I’m guessing they may require their own localised radar for more precise target guidance once within range. I would think without all the ‘mobile’ stuff attached it would be quite a simple system and could use Camm for close range, and we could even have some mk41 for longer range missiles providing layers of protection. Have modest banks of cells for peacetime keeping cost down, but additional cells could be quickly added to the system if we ever come under significant threat. Any thoughts on why this isn’t an option?

    • for a reason I don’t fully understand NATO seems to rely heavily on its QRA rather than SAM sites. I guess the idea is that the jets can be used in aggressor role whilst SAM is purely defensive but does really open up the block to surprise attacks where the jets can’t get air borne fast enough.

      • The Warsaw Pact / Russia always had more SAM defences than NATO.

        1/ They had a vast area to cover.

        2/ The USA was the only nation with the Strategic Bomber force, through SAC, to
        threaten the motherland, thus the need for a huge SAM network to attempt to
        defend against it.

        3/ I think NATO would have gained air superiority pretty quickly. The Russian threat
        was overplayed massively then just as it is now.

        4/ In the Cold War on the Central front it was Russia who had more Interceptors, not
        NATO, which had more attack aircraft such as Tornado GR1. Again, NATO would be
        the one to take the greater offensive threat to rear areas, especially at Night.

        5/ As for surprise attacks. There is talk here of surprise raids on our radars in previous
        articles. If that happened all gloves are off anyway. But why would Putin want to
        start World War 3?

        6/ I do not think the Russian threat is severe enough to warrant the expense of mass
        defence of bases.

        • I agree Russia isn’t really a realistic threat today but who knows what the country will be like once the iron fist of putin retires/dies. Any sane government wouldn’t start ww3 but unfortunately there are less sane ones.

        • It’s Russia & China together we need to worry about. Sub launched cruise missiles are the big difference between now & the Cold War

          • Russia is a state of huge corruption and vested interests. Putin has managed to keep a stable government for a number of years and somehow avoid the people rising up in protest of the corruption he himself appears to have overseen. What worries me is what happens next, if there is a power vacume like there was after starlin there has to be a serious risk of civil war as the people push back. Right now the only thing stopping it seems to be Putin and his propaganda regime against the West.

          • (Chris H) Can I just mention that while NATO exists Russia will not stray too far past its own borders or what it considers its own borders. Like Crimea. And yes it will dabble in areas outside of NATO inflence that counter US and ‘western’ interests like Syria just to be the Russian thorn in our side. But they did play ball with the other UN permanent Members (+ Germany) over Iran. That tells us a lot

            So yes by all means develop these excellent field protection units but is anyone seriously suggesting Russia (let alone China) is pondering an air or submarine strike on the UK mainland and so we must have these outside every MoD base or station? No Putin is a bully and a thug who likes prodding NATO to get a reaction as this plays well with his own power base but anything more than that is frankly not going to happen.

  11. CAMM, in its Sea Ceptor version, seems to have become quite an export success. Essentially it gives an unparalleled level of local area air defense to non-AAW specialist frigates and corvette sized vessels. Hopefully the land based version will have comparable success..

    Out of interest one wonders whether the army will know it as CAMM, Land Ceptor, or Sky Guardian? All three names being correct but with a slightly different meaning.

  12. Hopefully someone is considering the integration of the land based radar with any aerial born facilities providing local support.

  13. The decline of UK ground forces air defence capability is quite staggering.

    No replacement for RAF bloodhounds

    No replacement for British Army Thunderbirds.

    All RAF rapier units disbanded.

    Two British Army rapier units disbanded.

    Now we have just two air defence regiments, one with Rapier (to be replaced by land ceptor) and one with starstreak.

    Hollowed out capability.

    • rapier has been obsolete for many years and the focus was on other areas of the budget. At least we are getting some of the capability back with the land ceptor.

      I wonder if rapier could actually successfully engage a supersonic jet with stand off weapons, I suspect not.

      • In the case of stand off weapons the main focus would be for Land Ceptor to take out the stand off weapon itself rather than the carrying platform which would likely be out of its effective range.

      • The range of Rapier is very limited, it’s engagement parameters are also limited and it performed poorly in the Falklands, although that was an earlier model. Replacement is long overdue.

        We also most certainly need a patriot type system.

        Again it’s another lost capability to add to an ever increasing list.

        Land ceptor appears to be very good but it is not the total solution to our air defence needs.

    • Excuse my ignorance, but do we have anything to defend against either long-range ballistic missiles, or medium-range cruise or hyper-sonic/swarm-type missile systems for our main bases?

      Given the UK defence is so hollowed-out, and all our capabilities are concentrated into so few bases, it strikes me that a relatively small hit could say take out the main runway at Marham and similar elsewhere. Funny how the Yanks insisted in putting the nuke sub capability so close to Glasgow so their personnel would not get bored.

      Do we need some sort beyond line-of-site “sentinel” type system that sits say 200-miles or more offshore – particularly the Atlantic where since the ‘80s the Roooskies have always wanted to fire long-range cruise missiles from? Something to be able to detect and fire off some sort of Patriot or high-energy-type system to defend us?

      I always worry that nobody in the MoD/Military/politics does the joined-up thinking in these matters.

      • You need multiple layers of air defence, consisting of interceptor aircraft, long range SAMs, medium range SAMs and a close in system (gun or missile based)

        This methodology not applies to the Royal Navy (F35, Aster30, Aster15/ seaceptor and phanlax) but also to ground based air defence.

      • Technically yes. The T45 PAAMS system has been used to track ballistic missiles, but has yet to be officially tested in this capacity. It was originally designed to counter swarm attacks from low level sea skimming missiles. It has the capability to take out hypersonic missiles. The Aster 30 missile has successfully destroyed theatre ballistic test missiles and high speed (+mach 2.5) low level targets.
        Italy, France and the UK have invested heavily in the next generation Aster 30 Block 2 missile to give it a true anti ballistic missile capability. The Block 2 could be classed as a different missile as it uses a new forward section that does not rely on aerodynamic manoeuvring to intercept its target.
        The ground based version of PAAMS = SAMP/T has successfully tracked and intercepted short and medium range ballistic missiles using Aster 30 Block 1NT missiles.
        If there was spare funding, I’m pretty sure the MOD would look at developing a land based PAAMS system. We have all the constituent parts already in place at Portsmouth, just need the missiles to go with it!

        • Will the next generation Aster 30 Block 2 missile fit in Sylver 50 or does it need Sylver 70? I’m assuming that as an Aster 30 derivative it will fit Sylver 50 but just want to check that assumption.

      • Patriot PAC3 has a limited anti ballistic missile capability. Many European countries field Patriot. The only western country that has a layered anti ballistic missile capability is Israel. They have PAC3 and also Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow. Apparently we have bought a segment from Iron Dome to become the C2 element of Sky Sabre together with Giraffe. We’ve never acknowledged the threat from ballistic missiles.

    • Mike – funding permitting I would have thought SAMPT would be an obvious solution – uses the Aster Missile,makes logistics/training etc easier.

  14. No.

    Does Typhoon /AMRAAM/ Meteor posess look down shoot down capability for low flying cruise missiles? I’d imagine so.

    What’s the USA got to do with the decision to use Faslane / Holy Loch??

    • Yes Daniele. Look down/shoot down is definitely a capability Typhoon will have. The capability was certainly around in the Foxhunter/Skyflash days so I’m sure modern radar/missiles will retain it.

    • Re: Sub base
      Without digging up the exact reference, I believe when we were planning with the Americans where to put the Polaris/nuke sub base, the Americans insisted on not putting it too far away from somewhere so that their personnel could get some R&R easily.

  15. I once saw a thunderbird being launched in KSA, it hit a large hill/mountain rather than the intended target.

  16. my feeling is a war with Iran or north Korea is inevitable at some point. Neither of which pose a serious fixed wing threat but both pose a significant short range missile threat. The number of missiles available to be used at that point will probably be more key than the number of platforms themselves. Let’s hope the purchase of this also brings with it extra missiles.

  17. Purley a question.

    As Dragonfire will be available in the early 2020’s, would it not make sense to protect our military installations with a more powerful land based version?

    Cost per shot for example is clearly far cheaper. Outdoor testing begins in the next two months at the shoeburyness range.

    http://optics.org/news/8/3/44

  18. On a completely different note (sorry) I read in the Telegraph that a debate has started on the Sentry replacement question, a subject covered not long ago on UKDJ. I see MPs are getting exercised about MOD yet again hinting at buying off the shelf American kit (i.e. Wedgetail) from Boeing instead of opening it to competition and allowing British industry (i.e. Airbus with SAAB?) to bid for the contract. I’m an ex Airbus guy. I was part of a previous joint Airbus/SAAB unsolicited submission to the RAF, but as a patriot and a taxpayer I reckon that replacement is better than upgrade and that something proven and flying like Wedgetail is probably better than a Voyager/ Erieye combination. It would also mean commonality with Oz and Turkey. Voyager probably better used as a C2 node for F-35, again in common with Oz. There, I’ve said my piece. Now shoot me down if you want. Honestly, I say this not knowing the merits of the Wedgetail radar vs the Erieye. I often support Airbus in favour of Boeing as I genuinely believe they make a better product and they are European. But on this occasion I think Wedgetail is what’s best for U.K. Defence. But please MOD, act quickly!

  19. Thanks for all the responses.

    Sounds like we sort of have all the elements for a layered and long-range defence, if only we had the will and understanding to stick them together. Also sounds like we need some more T45s and ASW stuff to protect them if they are going to be our shield.

  20. I’ve always wondered how useful a submarine version of a T45 would be? Nothing fancy, a diesel electric, but with the ability to act as a mobile air defence ‘site’. Something which would pop up wherever and use Sampson/Aster 30 to provide considerable anti-air capability wherever it’s needed. Imagine even, a vessel that could launch SAM missiles sub-surface! Just a bit of bluesky thinking.

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