The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the joint Ministry of Defence (MoD) and industry-run UK Missile Defence Centre (MDC) have successfully tested BAE Systems’ Sampson multi-function radar (MFR) aboard the Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring.
Conducted at the US Pacific Reagan site, the testing marks a vital step in the development of ballistic missile target tracking.
During the US Ballistic Missile Defence System operational test, the radar successfully detected and tracked two medium-range ballistic missile targets.
Carried out as part of the Type 45 science and technology programme (TSAT), the trial involved exploring the Type 45’s potential in tasks of both short-range tactical and medium-range theatre ballistic missile defence (TBMD).
BAE Systems Maritime Services Product and Training Services director Les Gregory said the company would continue to work with the MDC to explore these capabilities further.
"It is always pleasing after all the experimentation, modelling and prediction, to conduct a trial on this scale [and] demonstrate, beyond all doubt, that this capability beats all expectations," Gregory said.
Sampson MFR, which is the surveillance and fire-control radar element of the Sea Viper Air Defence System, is capable of detecting all types of targets up to 400km away, and can track hundreds of targets at once.
UK MDC director Simon Pavitt said that this work has raised the profile of ballistic missile defence potential, inherent within the Type 45, and will support an ongoing MDC programme to further explore key issues.
"The constraints we were working under in terms of time and resource were considerable and we have succeeded," Pavitt said.
Funded by the MoD’s chief scientific adviser’s science and technology (S&T) programme, TSAT was led in collaboration with BAE Systems and the Royal Navy.
Image: A Type 45 destroyer fires an Aster 30 missile, part of the Sea Viper anti-air missile system. Photo: Copyright MBDA Incorporated.