New air defence system unveiled

DEVELOPMENT Ministry of Defence computer generated image of the Royal Navy's planned Sea Ceptor missiles
DEVELOPMENT Ministry of Defence computer generated image of the Royal Navy's planned Sea Ceptor missiles
A soldier with the 4th Mechanised Brigade is pictured engaging the enemy during Operation Qalb in Helmand, Afghanistan. PPP-151019-121639001

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THE Royal Navy has revealed details of a new air defence system capable of destroying enemy missiles travelling at three times the speed of sound.

Sea Ceptor missiles fired from warships will reach speeds of up to Mach 3 and can protect an area of around 500 sq miles over land or sea.

The £483 million contract to develop the cutting-edge missile defence system has been awarded to MBDA (UK).

The Ministry of Defence said the five-year project would sustain around 500 jobs in MBDA and its supply chain in facilities across the UK including at Stevenage in Hertfordshire, Filton in South Gloucestershire and Lostock in Bolton.

Sea Ceptor will initially be used on the navy’s Type 23 frigates as a replacement for the old Sea Wolf missiles. The new system is also expected to be installed on the new fleet of Type 26 frigates which are due to be built from 2020. In the future, the missiles could be adapted for use by the Army and RAF.

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.’

Defence equipment minister 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 to our armed forces.’