Sea Viper, the groundbreaking missile system previously called PAAMS until it was renamed by the Royal Navy, will set new standards in air defence.
And, during recent test-firings from the UK trials barge Longbow in the Mediterranean, the system achieved a direct hit in a salvo (multiple missiles) firing against a manoeuvrable sea-skimming target travelling at hundreds of miles an hour.
Sea Viper is capable of defending the Type 45 and ships in its company against multiple attacks from the most sophisticated enemy aircraft or missiles approaching from any direction and at supersonic speeds. It can even engage more than ten targets simultaneously - a huge leap in capability for the Royal Navy.
Speaking about the recent trials, Richard Smart, Head of Complex Weapons at Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), said:
The DE&S weapons and destroyers teams and MBDA, alongside our international partners, have worked closely together to achieve a very successful trials outcome. We have overcome a number of significant hurdles and everyone involved is rightly proud of reaching this milestone.
While there is more work to do, we are well on our way towards the first firing later this year from a Type 45 platform, Dauntless, in support of demonstrating Sea Viper’s world class capability on board the Type 45 destroyers.
A key element of Sea Viper’s capability is the sophisticated, phased-array Sampson radar, which has a range of 400 kilometres. Its onboard position about 30 metres above the water widens its horizon at sea level to enable the system to react to high-speed, very low-level, anti-ship missiles.
Sampson, which was designed to the Royal Navy’s specific requirements in the UK by BAE Systems, sends a target location update to the missile during its flight which then uses thrusters powerful enough to shift the missile sideways several metres to bring the warhead into range of even manoeuvring targets.
It is the latest in a string of recent milestones for the Type 45 project which saw the second ship in the class, HMS Dauntless, commissioned into the Royal Navy in June, and the fourth ship, Diamond, complete its latest set of sea trials. The landmark launch of the final ship of the class, Duncan, is due before the end of the year.
Meanwhile the first of the class, HMS Daring, has passed basic operational sea training (BOST) that saw the ship put through her paces over several weeks off the coast of Devon and Cornwall to test the crew.
Training culminates in a realistic war at sea with other ships, submarines and aircraft, where every possible scenario is simulated, from attack from above and below water to fires and floods.
Commodore Steve Brunton, DE&S Head of Destroyers, said:
The successful completion of BOST has proved that HMS Daring will provide the Royal Navy with a world class platform and a step change in capability.
Daring’s commanding officer and his company deserve immense credit for achieving so much during BOST, as do the Destroyers Team in DE&S, Navy Command, and industry for their critical contribution.
We have all learned a huge amount about Daring and the Type 45 Class and my team in DE&S, in partnership with the ship’s company, Navy Command and industry, are determined to take forward all we have learned through BOST to deliver an even greater level of performance in future.
In a further demonstration of progress on the Type 45, Transfer of Asset for HMS Dauntless has taken place.
The second of three key acceptance events within the Type 45’s progressive acceptance programme, Transfer of Asset is declared when six of the nine Type 45 key user requirements are agreed.
The final agreement that all key user requirements are met will be at the in-service date (ISD).
The first milestone in this acceptance programme - Acceptance off Contract - was achieved on 3 December 2009, and the final milestone will be the declaration of ISD.
HMS Dauntless is currently undergoing Stage 2 sea trials which are progressing well.
This report by Sally May was first published in the August 2010 issue of desider - the magazine for Defence Equipment and Support.