Sea Ceptor Missile Test Firing Complete at Sea
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Dec. 20, 2017)
The Royal Navy has completed firing trials of its Sea Ceptor air-defense missile, which can now proceed to the next stage of the acceptance into service. As seen here, the latest trials included firing two missiles at the same time. (UK MoD photo)
Firing trials of the new Sea Ceptor air defence system have been successfully completed on board HMS Argyll.

The second ship fitted with Sea Ceptor has also conducted a successful firing to verify the weapon system upgrade.

The new missile defence system will provide UK personnel with a powerful shield against airborne targets – including hostile combat jets and helicopters, as well enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.

The completion of the firing trials from Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll means Sea Ceptor can proceed to the next stage of the acceptance into service with the Royal Navy.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said: “In the face of intensifying global threats, cutting-edge systems like Sea Ceptor will keep the UK safe. These successful trials from HMS Argyll mark a major milestone towards the introduction of this world-class missile system into service for the Royal Navy.

“Work to develop and install Sea Ceptor across the Royal Navy is also boosting British industry, supporting 600 jobs in the Bristol, Stevenage and Bolton areas.”



The first firings of Sea Ceptor were conducted from HMS Argyll at the Hebrides range off the coast of Scotland and involved firing the system to assess its performance against a range of scenarios.

Two sets of trials were conducted by Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S) and supported by a number of other organisations, lasting around two weeks each.

During the firings the system was first tested against single aerial targets. This was followed by more demanding tests, including a single target engaged by two missiles and a twin firing (two targets, each engaged by a single missile at the same time).

An installation test firing from HMS Westminster - the second ship fitted with Sea Ceptor - took place in November, with each of the Type 23 ships due to carry out installation test firings in due course.

Lieutenant Nick Andrews, HMS Westminster’s Anti-Air-Warfare Officer, said: “HMS Westminster managed to explore the real potential of the system during her training and to say it is a real game changer is an understatement. Unlike its predecessor, the system is capable of defending ships other than Westminster herself. Whether it’s engaging multiple air threats or fast incoming attack craft, Sea Ceptor represents a massive capability upgrade for the Type 23 frigate.”

Designed and manufactured by MBDA in the UK, Sea Ceptor is being fitted to replace the Sea Wolf weapon system on the Type 23 frigates and will provide the same capability for the Royal Navy’s future Type 26 Frigates.

Sea Ceptor defends escort vessels within a maritime task group, such as for the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, and with HMS Argyll due to deploy to Japan next year, the trials successfully showcased the short-range capabilities of the new defence system. Another Type 23, HMS Sutherland, is due to deploy to Australia in the New Year.

The system uses a new UK-developed missile, the Common Anti-air Modular Missile or CAMM, that is capable of reaching speeds of up to three times the speed of sound, and will have the ability to deal with multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of around 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometres) over land or sea.

Sea Ceptor supports around 600 MBDA jobs and its supply chain in key locations across the UK such as Bristol, Stevenage and Bolton.

Richard Smart, Director Weapons, for the MOD’s procurement organisation Defence Equipment and Support, which is based at MOD Abbey Wood in Bristol, said: “These trials are a significant step in getting the Sea Ceptor weapon system to acceptance and a great example of how important live trials are in helping us to understand a new military capability before using it in operational service. The success of the trials is testimony to the hard work put in by the DE&S project team and the working relationship they have with industry.

“The results of the firings are now going through extensive analysis; our assessment so far is positive and shows how Sea Ceptor is capable of protecting both the ship which fired it and other ships in its task group, which could include the UK’s two new Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers.”

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Royal Navy Completes Sea Ceptor Firing Trials
(Source: MBDA; issued Dec. 20, 2017)
The Royal Navy has successfully conducted the final First of Class firing trials of the new Sea Ceptor air defence system – completing the qualification firings of this cutting-edge new capability for the Royal Navy.

Following on from the first round of trials this summer, the second set of trials from HMS Argyll saw the system tested against more complex scenarios, including rapidly engaging multiple simultaneous threats.

With HMS Argyll having completed development testing of Sea Ceptor, the weapon system is now being rolled out to the Royal Navy’s other Type 23 Frigates. The first of a series of installation test firings has been successfully completed on HMS Westminster. Each Sea Ceptor platform will similarly complete an installation test firing in due course as they prepare to re-join frontline service after their refits.

Sea Ceptor offers a step-change in capability compared with legacy systems like Sea Wolf, which it is replacing in Royal Navy service. While Sea Wolf gave Royal Navy warships the capability to protect themselves, with Sea Ceptor the navy’s frigates will now also be able protect other vessels.

Speaking following the success of the trials, Nick Neale, Sea Ceptor Programme Manager at MBDA said: “The performance and capabilities of Sea Ceptor have been fully demonstrated in these outstanding trials by the Royal Navy. Recognising the complexity of the new system, the consistent level of success achieved is quite remarkable and testament to the quality of MBDA’s verification and validation process”.

Sea Ceptor’s missile is called CAMM (Common Anti-air Modular Missile), and its unique features provide the key to this step-change in capability. These include its powerful rocket motor that provides double the range of Sea Wolf, and its active radar-seeker that allows the missile to engage targets without the need for complex and costly target illuminators.

CAMM also makes use of a soft-launch system that uses a gas generator to eject the missile from its canister, the benefits of which include: further increased range by saving all the rocket motor’s energy to power the intercept, reduced minimum intercept range, reduced stresses on the launch platform, significantly reduced maintenance requirements/costs, more compact installation on ship, and removes the need to manage the hot gas efflux on board.

Despite being brand new to the international market, the benefits that CAMM offers have already been widely acknowledged internationally; with a number of international customers having chosen it as the basis for their future local air defence capabilities.

As part of the Portfolio system of co-operation between the UK Ministry of Defence and MBDA, CAMM is also being brought into service as the weapon element of the Land Ceptor system to replace the British Army’s Rapier ground-based air defence systems. By operating a common missile, the UK armed forces will be able to take advantage of significant cost benefits throughout the lifecycle of the systems, including development, procurement, support costs and sharing a completely common stockpile

MBDA is the only European group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). In 2016 MBDA achieved a turnover of 3.0 billion euros with an order book of 15.9 billion euros. With more than 90 armed forces customers in the world, MBDA is a world leader in missiles and missile systems.

MBDA is jointly owned by Airbus (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%), and Leonardo (25%).

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