Royal Navy’s £850m Sea Ceptor missile system comes online

The new Sea Ceptor missile system has passed a series of firing tests and will enter full service with the Royal Navy later this year.

Designed and manufactured by MBDA, Sea Ceptor is a 99kg, 3.2m long missile capable of supersonic speeds around Mach 3 (1,020m/s). It will be deployed on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates and later on the Type 26 frigates when they come into service in the mid-2020s. The £850m system is capable of engaging multiple targets including enemy jets, helicopters and other missiles. It was developed to replace the existing Sea Wolf missile and will form part of the defence shield for the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers.

“Sea Ceptor’s entry into service with the Royal Navy is a significant milestone, a massive achievement for everyone involved and a proud moment for the team,” said Richard Smart, weapons director for the MOD’s procurement organisation Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S).

Sea Ceptor
(Credit: Crown Copyright)

“It’s really exciting to be delivering a new capability that will form part of the protection for the new aircraft carriers and will help to keep our service personnel and our country safe.”

A trials and firing programme saw the first missile launched from HMS Argyll at the Hebrides range off the coast of Scotland in September 2017. Since then, additional Type 23 frigates HMS Westminster and HMS Montrose have had the system installed and also carried out successful tests. According to defence secretary Gavin Williamson, the system’s first official deployment will take place later in 2018.

Sea Ceptor
The Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose (Credit: Crown Copyright)

“HMS Argyll will be the first ship to deploy with this cutting-edge system when she heads to support peace and security in the Asia Pacific region later this year,” he said.

“Sea Ceptor will protect our nation against the intensifying threats we face today and in the future, giving our ships a powerful shield against everything from supersonic missiles to enemy fighter jets.”