UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that the new Sea Ceptor missile system has officially entered service with the British Royal Navy.

The Sea Ceptor missile system has been developed and constructed via a series of UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) contracts worth approximately £850m.

It is expected to be installed on-board the Royal Navy’s Duke-class Type 23 frigates.

Sea Ceptor has been designed to replace the navy’s existing Seawolf missile system and is intended to protect the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers against airborne threats, including hostile combat jets, helicopters and other missiles.

"Fitting our warships with this ground-breaking technology not only protects our navy but shows we are world leaders at sea."

Williamson 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.

“Fitting our warships with this ground-breaking technology not only protects our navy but shows we are world leaders at sea.”

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The new missile system has successfully demonstrated its capabilities as part of a programme of trials and test firings that began last year.

The initial test firings were carried out on-board HMS Argyll, which is slated to be the first Type 23 ship to be fitted with the Sea Ceptor technology.

HMS Westminster is currently set to be the second frigate to be equipped with the missile system, while HMS Montrose will be the third vessel to receive the weapon.

The Sea Ceptor missile system has been designed and manufactured by MBDA.

The weapon delivers enhanced performance against current and projected future threats and is capable of engaging multiple targets.

It also enables the navy ships to effectively protect vessels during escort missions.

The Sea Ceptor programme has directly supported 600 job opportunities in Bristol, Stevenage and Bolton as part of the Team Complex Weapons partnering agreement between the MoD and MBDA.