The MOD has confirmed the development of a new Royal Navy missile defence system which will be able to intercept and destroy enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.
The £483m contract to develop this cutting-edge air defence system - known as Sea Ceptor - is being awarded to UK industry.
The system uses a new UK-developed missile capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 3 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 will be developed under a demonstration contract with MBDA (UK) that is expected to last for five years.
This contract will sustain around 500 jobs in MBDA and its supply chain in key locations across the UK such as Stevenage, Filton and Lostock.
Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Peter Luff said:
The development of this missile system is a huge boost to the UK’s world-leading missile industry and once again proves our commitment to providing battle-winning technology for our Armed Forces.
“The introduction of this cutting-edge missile system will not only ensure that the Royal Navy will be able to continue protecting our interests wherever they may be, but is also highly significant in sustaining and developing the UK’s skill in building complex weapons.”
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said:
This new weapon system will equip our frigates to deal with the type of sophisticated missile threat expected in the coming decades. Investment in advanced defence technology, such as Sea Ceptor, is vital to ensure the Royal Navy’s continued ability to defend the UK’s interests wherever necessary.
Chief of Defence Materiel Bernard Gray said:
There is no room for complacency when it comes to providing the Armed Forces with the kit that they require and the development of Sea Ceptor is testament to the forward-thinking attitude of the MOD. While we are committed to providing our Armed Forces with the kit they need now it is also vital that we have one eye on the future and the threats that may face us.
Sea Ceptor has been designed for initial use on the Type 23 frigate to replace the Sea Wolf air defence system when it goes out of service in 2016 and it is planned that it will be used on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship. Its flexible design also means that it could in future be adapted for use by the Army and RAF.