HMS Diamond has tested her Sea Viper missile system off the coast of Scotland.
The missile flew four times the speed of sound before obliterating an incoming drone target designed to simulate a projectile attack.
It was a major milestone in the intense pre-deployment work-up period of the 7,500-tonne Portsmouth-based warship and is hailed by the Royal Navy as proof of the Type 45 destroyer’s capability to defend herself and other ships around her.
Commander Ben Keith, the ship’s commanding officer, said: ‘We have proven once again that the Type 45 destroyer is a world-beating ship when it comes to air defence and this firing gives us the utmost confidence in Diamond and her systems in advance of our deployment later this year.’
‘An explosion in the sky marked the missile destroying her target, all in all the culmination of another successful week’s work for HMS Diamond.’
He added: ‘I am immensely proud of my team and the work they put in over the past few weeks to make this test firing possible.’
Just two and a half seconds after erupting from its silo, the 450kg Aster missile had accelerated to more than four times the speed of sound - otherwise known as Mach 4.
High over the seas, the missile manoeuvred at G-forces which no human being could withstand to close in and destroy the target.
In this case the target was a Mirach drone heading through the skies of the Outer Hebrides at around 500mph.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘Sea Viper is the combination of the Sampson radar system - the distinctive spinning spiked ball on top of a Type 45 destroyer’s main mast - and the Aster missile system in a silo on the forecastle. The system tracks aircraft and other objects across thousands of cubic miles of airspace, identifies threats, and destroys them when necessary.
‘The successful missile firing was the final tick in the box for HMS Diamond’s training package and marks the end of a busy few months for the ship and the men and women on board. She will now return to Portsmouth for a final period of preparations before deploying later this year.’