The Royal Navy is set to raise its naval air defence capabilities with a £405m upgrade to the Sea Viper missile system.

This enhancement, comprising three contracts awarded to MBDA, reinforces the Sea Viper as a naval air defence system for the Royal Navy. Two contracts – Sea Viper Evolution – will equip Type 45 destroyers to defend the Carrier Strike Group against anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). 

This involves upgrading the existing Aster 30 missiles with Block 1 warheads and new guidance software to counter emerging threats while maintaining anti-air warfare capabilities.

The UK joins forces with France and Italy through MBDA, entering the Aster 30 Block 1 programme to bolster defences against ASBMs. The collaboration extends beyond national borders, fostering cooperation and interoperability in maritime security.

Simultaneously, Sea Viper’s Air Defense system, recently credited with thwarting multiple hostile drone attacks in the Red Sea, will undergo an upgrade. The missile system, important for protecting the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, will receive updated missiles with a new warhead and software, enabling it to counter ballistic missile threats. 

Following recent Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, the Royal Navy destroyer Type 45 Destroyer HMS Diamond joined Operation Prosperity Guardian, a multinational coalition with US and French warships. This international task force aims to secure freedom of navigation and address the surge in Houthi attacks targeting global shipping. 

This development reinforces Sea Viper’s position as the Navy’s weapon of choice in countering evolving threats, as demonstrated in recent actions against hostile drones in the Red Sea.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps highlights the importance of adapting to global security challenges, underlining Sea Viper’s role in safeguarding allies and partners.

The Royal Navy’s Sea Viper missile system, integrated into Type 45 destroyers, has proven its capabilities through successful tests by HMS DiamondDefenderDaring, and Dragon

The enhancements to the Type 45 destroyers, expected to achieve full operational capability by Autumn 2032, mark a milestone in naval defence in an ever-changing geopolitical landscape.

In 2017, MBDA secured a £175m contract from the UK Ministry of Defence to provide extended in-service support for the British Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers’ Sea Viper weapon system.