The UK Royal Navy's Type 45, Daring-class anti-air warfare destroyer, HMS Defender, has successfully fired the Sea Viper weapon system for the first time.
After being launched, the 683lb anti-air missile system hurtled through the Atlantic skies at about four times the speed of sound, and successfully smashed the target, a 13ft remote-controlled Mirach drone, which was travelling at 600mph.
The successful missile firing, which is the final act in two years of rigorous training by the ship's crew, means the destroyer is now ready to deploy on global operations, joining the already active sister ships HMS Daring, Dauntless, Diamond and Dragon.
HMS Defender commanding officer commander Phil Nash said that the destroyer had proven her worth as the navy's ultimate air defender.
"We now look forward to our first operational deployment, defending the UK's interests wherever tasked around the world," Nash said.
Capable of intercepting incoming targets at ranges up to 20 and 75 miles, depending on the versions used, the Sea Viper system is an enhanced version of the Sea Dart missile, which is currently deployed on the decommissioned Type 42 destroyers and Type 45 warships.
The Sampson radar system, integrated on the crest of the ship's main mast, is capable of tracking hundreds of contacts up to 250 miles away.
Combining the capabilities of the radar and missile, Defender will be able to engage several targets simultaneously, and provides all-round protection to aircraft carriers or task groups.
Commissioned on 21 March 2013, the vessel is currently on its way to Portsmouth to embark on a short period of maintenance, prior to departing the UK on its maiden operational deployment.
Image: A Sea Viper missile being fired from HMS Defender. Photo: courtesy of the Royal Navy.