The Royal Navy’s premier shield against air attack will be bristling with missiles thanks to a £500m upgrade.All six Type 45 destroyers are adding the Sea Ceptor system to their arsenal – an extra layer of protection for the ships and the task groups they protect.
In addition, the Portsmouth-based vessels’ existing Sea Viper system – their principal weapon system and first line of defence against air attack – will also be enhanced.
Sea Ceptor is already in service with all 13 Type 23 frigates and will be installed in their successor class currently under construction, the Type 26 and 31 classes.
It’s smaller and has a shorter range than Sea Viper, but Sea Ceptor can protect an area the size of Greater Manchester (500 square miles/1,300 square kilometres) engaging multiple targets simultaneously, reaching speeds of up to three times the speed of sound as it intercepts.
As well as incoming missiles and aircraft – and unlike Sea Viper – Sea Ceptor is able to engage small surface targets, such as fast attack craft.
The 45s were built were an additional missile silo as well as spare compartments to meet future requirements and new tech arriving on the scene.
This forward silo space – often used as a gym – will now house 24 Sea Ceptors in what is dubbed “the mushroom farm” due to the black caps on each missile launcher.
“These programmes of work will provide an exceptional capability to the front line, ensuring the Royal Navy remains poised to defend the surface fleet – and most importantly the Carrier Strike Group – against complex air threats both now and into the future,” said Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, Fleet Commander.
MBDA UK has been awarded the contract to integrate its Common Anti-Air Missile (CAMM) system – known as Sea Ceptor in RN service – into the existing Sea Viper system.
And Eurosam will refresh the Aster 30 missile currently in service as part of the Sea Viper system.
The investment should support more than 100 highly-skilled jobs in Bristol, Stevenage, Gosport and Bolton. The Aster upgrade joint British-French-Italian effort and includes investment in a dedicated facility at Defence Munitions in Gosport.
The first Sea Ceptor-enhanced Type 45 is expected to be delivered by the summer of 2026, with the entire flotilla completed by winter 2032.
These programmes of work will provide an exceptional capability to the front line, ensuring the Royal Navy remains poised to defend the surface fleet – and most importantly the Carrier Strike Group – against complex air threats both now and into the future