WITH a loud roar and a flash of fire, a Seawolf missile erupts from the launcher on board HMS Iron Duke.
It’s the first time sailors have put their warship’s new 3D radar to the test, using it to seek and destroy a target skimming across the sea.
The Portsmouth-based frigate is the first ship in the Royal Navy fleet to be given the new radar, named Artisan, and an updated missile system.
Sailors on board have been putting the ship through its paces since receiving all the upgrades last year.
The radar system will go on to be fitted on all of the navy’s Type 23 frigates, as well as its two new aircraft carriers, assault ships Ocean and Albion, and potentially the upcoming Type 26 frigates.
Watching the first missile launch was a treat for the men and women on board Iron Duke who have been busy working on their upcoming deployment.
Lieutenant Commander Chris L’Amie, one of Iron Duke’s principal war officers, said: ‘We just finished eight weeks of hard training where we used Seawolf in simulation mode to defend ourselves.
‘To cap off the training with a live shoot was hugely satisfying.
‘I’m pleased the team performed well and we achieved the firing quickly and efficiently.
‘It really boosted confidence in the new radar ahead of Iron Duke’s deployment.’
After going through training around Plymouth, the frigate was on her way home to Portsmouth when the opportunity came to test the new systems.
Off the Dorset coast, Iron Duke waited for her target to be towed by an aircraft on a long tow wire.
The radar tracked the target, which acts like a sea-skimming missile, and passed its data to the missiles, which blew the object out of the sky with a direct hit.
The Artisan system can track up to 800 targets at the same time, whether they are 200 metres away, or 200 kilometres (125 miles).
Lt Cdr Jim Hyde, part of the team responsible for the missile and radar systems, said: ‘It was rewarding to see both the new radar and upgraded weapon system operated together perfectly.’