The hi-tech weapons platform was debuted during operations in the Pacific with HMS Queen Elizabeth’s carrier strike group.
Portsmouth-based detroyer HMS Defender’s Wildcat helicopter of 815 Naval Air Squadron fired the Martlet lightweight missile at an inflatable target in the sea – known in the navy as the ‘big red tomato’.
It is the first time this type of missile has been launched on frontline operations by the Senior Service after rigorous testing at ranges off the UK coast last year.
In 0.3 seconds, the missile detached from the Wildcat HMA Mk2 helicopter, accelerating to one and a half times the speed of sound towards its target.
The purpose of the missile system is to add another layer of protection around the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers, with the Wildcats able to carry up to 20 of the laser-sensor missiles that can be used against stationary and moving targets.
Captain James Blackmore, carrier strike group’s air wing commander, said: ‘Martlet is a new air to surface lightweight multi-role missile recently introduced into service for the Wildcat helicopter and provides an offensive and defensive capability against small boats and maritime targets that may pose a threat to the carrier strike group.
‘The Wildcat is a phenomenally versatile aircraft and the inclusion of up to 20 missiles on each of the four embarked aircraft adds yet another potent capability to the air wing and the carrier strike group.’