The Ministry of Defence has announced that the UK is set to become the first European nation to operate the maritime ballistic missile defence capability, which will be fitted to the navy’s six Type 45 destroyers.
The full upgrade programme will be worth more than £300 million, supporting more than 100 jobs, including highly skilled jobs in the Ise of Wight, Stevenage, Bristol, and Bolton.
Alongside upgrades to their distinctive round radar, the destroyers will have their Sea Viper missile payload rise from 48 to 72, with each weapon able to tackle a threat 75 miles away.
Lieutenant Commander Stephen Ashley, weapon engineer officer on HMS Duncan – the most advanced Type 45 in the fleet following her recently-completed refit – said all six ships in the class would benefit ‘tremendously’ from the missile upgrades.
He said: ‘The ability to almost double the size of the missile outload on a Type 45 will be a real game changer for ships facing near-peer adversaries, particularly with the surface mode offered by Ceptor which will significantly bolster our ability to defeat fast-attack craft.’
‘The new maritime ballistic missile defence capability will really increase our ability to operate freely in the more hostile parts of the world, as we can now see and engage these high-end missiles. It will also deepen our role with NATO as we can now integrate into the wider allied ballistic missile defence network.’
The upgrade comes amid ‘increasing’ threats posed by anti-ship ballistic missiles at sea, according to a Ministry of Defence spokesman.
Defence procurement minister Jeremy Quin said: ‘As we face global uncertainty, alliances and greater defensive capability are more important than ever. Joining our French and Italian counterparts will see us collectively improve the cutting-edge technology our armed forces possess.
Earlier this year, all six of the navy’s Type 45 destroyers were alongside in port for improvement works, as the ships had been plagued by engine issues since they were launched in 2010, with the former head of the Royal Navy labelling the dodgy engines a ‘bloody disgrace’.
The Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer fleet includes HMS Daring, HMS Dauntless, HMS Diamond, HMS Dragon, HMS Defender, and HMS Duncan.