Sea Ceptor Missile System, United Kingdom
The Sea Ceptor is a sea-based supersonic missile defence system being developed for the UK's Royal Navy. The system will initially be mounted on Type 23 frigates. There is a plan to subsequently use them on Type 26 Global Combat Ships (GCS).
Sea Ceptor missile system will be developed by MBDA Missile Systems, a partnership between BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica.
MBDA won a £483m demonstration contract for the Sea Ceptor from the Royal Navy in January 2012 under the future local area air defence system (FLAADS).
The contract is part of the portfolio management agreement (PMA) which the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed with MBDA in 2010. Under the PMA, MBDA will manage the portfolio of Complex Weapon projects for the MoD for ten years.
The Sea Ceptor programme will support about 500 jobs in the UK.
Thales UK will develop and manufacture the laser proximity fuze for the Sea Ceptor's missile as part of a contract signed in January 2012.
Sea Ceptor programme details
The Sea Ceptor missile system has been designed to be suitable for the Type 26 GCS. The system will initially be deployed on Type 23 vessels to replace Vertical Launch Sea Wolf air defence system when the latter system will be withdrawn from service in 2016. The Sea Ceptor will be deployed on Type 26 combat ships when they replace the Type 23s in 2020.
Though developed for the UK Royal Navy, the missile system will be made available for other navies as well. Its modular design can be modified to suit the requirements of individual navies.
The Sea Ceptor can be deployed on various platforms ranging from 50m offshore patrol vessels to large surface vessels.
There is a possibility of the missile system being adapted for the British Army and the Royal Air Force.
Supersonic missile system design and features
The supersonic Sea Ceptor missile is 3.2m long and weighs 99kg. It has a diameter of 160cm.
The missile covers a range of more than 25km and provides 360 degree coverage. It can reach speeds up to Mach 3.
The Sea Ceptor has a simple integration mechanism. It has a compact launch system which allows it to be deployed at various deck locations. The 'soft launch' technique reduces the weight of the system and provides it with installation flexibility.
The missile system does not require dedicated radars because it can utilise the data interpreted by the vessel's surveillance radars. The command and control system can be integrated with new as well as the existing combat systems.
The Sea Ceptor and future Ceptor land system will have common features and will be based on MBDA's common anti-air modular missile (CAMM). CAMM is being developed in three versions - CAMM (M) for maritime, CAMM (L) for land and CAMM (A) for air defence. CAMM (M) is the first to be developed, in the form of the Sea Ceptor.
Combat capabilities of MBDA's missile defence system
The missile has the capability to intercept combat aircraft and missiles moving at supersonic speeds and neutralise them. It protects the host ship as well as the surrounding installations.
Sea Ceptor can respond to saturating attacks with its multiple channels of fire. It can protect an area of 1,300km² over land and sea.
The system is targeted towards sophisticated missile attacks in future.
Portfolio management agreement (PMA)
Under the PMA, MBDA will oversee the transformation of the complex weapons of the UK's defence forces. The portfolio of projects under the agreement has the potential to value £4bn over ten years. It is expected to bring in efficiencies worth £1bn to the MoD.
The Sea Ceptor programme is the second contract awarded under the PMA. The first contract, worth £330m, was signed between the MoD and MBDA in 2010.
Under the contract, MBDA will supply Fire Shadow Loitering Munition (LM) for the British Army and Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) Capability 2, Block 1, for the Royal Air Force.