The British Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland has successfully trialled its latest Martlet anti-ship missile during a firing exercise in the Irish Sea.

Designed to combat terrorists and suicide bombers, the Martlet missile hit its target boat.

The objective of the test was to see whether the missile could be fired from both ships and helicopters.

During the test, HMS Sutherland fired four Martlet missiles at a fast-moving speedboat off the Welsh coast.

Martlet is a lightweight multi-role missile originally designed for launch from Wildcat helicopters.

The weapon has the ability to protect the navy’s ships from the threat of small boats. Helicopters will also be equipped with the Sea Venom missile to deal with larger warships.

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The Royal Navy intends to be equipped to better address the risks faced by its units deployed in danger zones. The service has highlighted recent incidents involving attacks on merchant and military shipping demonstrated the need for enhanced safety of its units.

HMS Sutherland Weapon Engineer Officer lieutenant commander George Blakeman said: “The current defence against fast inshore attack craft, the 30mm gun, is highly effective for closer range engagements.

“By adding the missile to the gun mount it is anticipated it will extend the reach of the ship’s defensive systems, key to successful defence against fast craft using swarm attack tactics.

“The Fighting Clan has always had a reputation for being at the forefront of innovation and we were delighted to be chosen to support this trial.”

Of the four missiles involved in the testing, one was fired to test the effect of the Martlet ‘blasting off’ from its launcher on the gun mounting and the side of HMS Sutherland.

The remaining three packed with telemetry to measure the missile’s accuracy.

Martlet can carry a 3kg warhead and accelerates to one and a half times the speed of sound in a very short time.

The proceedings were captured using high-resolution cameras to allow Thales and military scientists to analyse the effects.