The British Navy has announced that the new Sea Viper air defence missile system has successfully demonstrated its ability to protect air, land and sea forces during a second test firing.

An exact replica of the air defence equipment for the new Type 45 destroyers was successfully test-fired from a 12,000t trials barge Longbow off the French coast.

The Sea Viper is a highly sophisticated system that includes long-range and missile-directing radars, a combat control centre and vertical launcher missile silos. The system is designed to protect both land and sea forces from aircraft attack, as well as to defend the naval fleet against supersonic anti-ship missiles.

MOD Defence Equipment and Support Medium Range Air Defence Weapons team leader, David Emly said that the system had worked admirably.

“This test was much more difficult with the target simulating a low-level anti-ship missile at close range and so I am very pleased with the result as it demonstrates that the Type 45 Destroyer’s powerful Anti-Air Warfare capability is on track to be delivered in 2010,” he said.

The system will be used on the recently arrived Type 45 destroyer, HMS Daring, into her home port of Portsmouth for the first time in January. Integrating the Sea Viper system is the main focus of the ship’s remaining trials before she is declared ready for service.

The Sea Viper air defence system is composed of the Sampson radar, a combat management system, long-range radar, the Sylver missile launching system and Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles.

The Aster missiles are capable of speeds in excess of mach four and are highly agile, using an innovative system called ‘Pif Paf’. This combines conventional aerodynamic control with a novel lateral thrust system.

The trial comprised the firing of a single Aster 15 missile launched against a Mirach target simulating a low-level attack from an anti-ship missile.

By Daniel Garrun.