Despite what would appear to be two years of minimal action, the Government insist they are continuing to ‘explore the potential’ of operating Type 45 Destroyers in a ballistic missile defence role.
The information comes from a question asked in Parliament by Mr Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to paragraph 4.16 of the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, what recent representations his Department has received from NATO on the Government’s commitment to investigate further the potential of the Type 45 destroyers to operate in a BMD role.”
The question was answered by Mark Lancaster, Minister of State for the Armed Forces:
“Since the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, the UK has continued to explore the potential for the Type 45 Destroyers to operate in a ballistic missile defence role, including through active engagement with NATO partners.”
British officials at a summit last March said that the Royal Navy is considering arming its destroyers with the new Aster missile version, dubbed Aster 30 Block 1NT.
The missile, a wide area defence missile capable against 1500 km-range ballistic missiles, was again discussed at a recent defence industry panel in Glasgow.
At the UK-France Security Summit, the two nations pledged to work jointly on complex weapons. According to a joint statement:
“We are fully supporting the long term strategy to jointly deliver effective military equipment in the most efficient manner while minimising national constraints and strengthening our common defence technological and industrial base.
In support of this, Defence Ministers signed in September 2015 an Inter-Governmental Agreement enabling full implementation of Centres of Excellence into MBDA, a key step towards creating inter-dependence between us around key missile technologies.
We also intend to develop in 2016 a portfolio approach to strengthen our industrial links and jointly address the current and future operational requirements of our forces. In that respect, France is for instance considering Brimstone 2 for next standard of Tiger combat helicopter and the United Kingdom is considering the Aster Block 1NT for equipping its T45 Destroyers.”
The programme also aims to “extend the range to hit incoming ballistic missiles”.
At the start of the year, Italy also joined the ‘Aster 30 Block 1NT’ programme.