A target boat took a direct hit in the Irish Sea as the Type 23 Frigate tested a new missile designed to defeat terrorists and suicide bombers.
Martlet – also known as the Lightweight Multi-role Missile – was originally designed to be fired by Wildcat helicopters to take out small boats which posed a threat to the Fleet, say the Royal Navy.
The Royal Navy say that recent incidents where both merchant and military shipping have been attacked by manned and unmanned surface and air systems armed with explosive devices, underlined the risks faced by Royal Navy units deployed in danger zones.
“Just five months after the idea was mooted, the Plymouth-based frigate was off the Aberporth Range at the southern end of Cardigan Bay facing a fast inshore attack craft tearing across the water.
After first proving that the gun could still fire accurately with the missile fitted – 120 rounds obliterated a large red ‘killer tomato’ target – and that the sensors behind Martlet could track its radio-controlled foe at ranges of up to five kilometres.
Finally, four missiles were fired – one to test the effect of the Martlet ‘blasting off’ from its launcher on the gun mounting and the side of Sutherland (the missile accelerates to one and a half times the speed of sound in an instant), three packed with telemetry to measure the missile’s accuracy (ordinarily the weapon carries a 3kg warhead).”
Most Royal Navy vessels are armed with a series of machine-guns and mini-guns to fend off small craft, while some are also equipped with Phalanx close in weapons systems in addition to missiles like Sea Ceptor which are designed for aerial threats.
“The current defence against fast inshore attack craft, the 30mm gun, is highly effective for closer range engagements,” said Lieutenant Commander George Blakeman, HMS Sutherland’s Weapon Engineer Officer.
“By adding the missile to the gun mount it is anticipated it will extend the reach of the ship’s defensive systems – key to successful defence against fast craft using swarm attack tactics.”