Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin announced today that the first firings of the new Sea Ceptor air defence missile have been successfully conducted.
The Minister visited defence company MBDA’s site in Filton, near Bristol, meeting with local graduates, apprentices and other employees working on the Sea Ceptor system.
Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll fired the Sea Ceptor missiles in a test earlier this Summer.
The new air missile defence system can intercept and destroy enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds and will form part of the protection for the nation’s new aircraft carriers. The first firings were conducted from Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll whilst off the coast of Scotland.
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:
“Sea Ceptor will protect our interests against threats both known and unknown. It will launch from the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates as they keep our nuclear deterrent submarines and the UK’s two new aircraft carriers safe on operations around the globe.
Sea Ceptor supports 600 UK jobs and is yet another example of how our rising defence budget is being spent on cutting-edge kit to help our Armed Forces meet future threats.”
Sea Ceptor is being fitted to replace the Sea Wolf weapon system on the Type 23 frigates.
Commander Toby Shaughnessy, the Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll, said:
“This is an exciting upgrade in capability and a great opportunity for HMS Argyll to demonstrate what the missile system can do to protect our ships from future threats.
Sea Ceptor is an impressive and innovative system, demonstrating that the Royal Navy is at the cutting edge of technology and working hard to keep Britain safe. I am immensely proud of my ship’s company and the work they put in to make this test firing possible.”
HMS Argyll will conduct further firing trials of the Sea Ceptor system before she deploys to Japan next year.
However it’s not all good news as we reported last week, Royal Navy ships will lose their anti-ship missile capability in 2018 when the Harpoon missile is withdrawn with a replacement not due until ‘around 2030’.
While the Royal Navy will still have an anti-ship capability via the submarine fleet and embarked helicopters, this will still be a significant capability gap and even then, no Royal Navy helicopters will have anti-ship missile capabilities until 2020.
We reported last year on the programme to replace Harpoon when Harriett Baldwin and her French counterpart signed an agreement to explore future long range weapons for the Royal and French Navies and Air Forces with the aim of replacing the Harpoon anti-ship missile and the Storm Shadow cruise missile as well as an array of French weapon types.