The U.K. Royal Navy has tested the Sea Ceptor missile system that is set to be installed on six of its Type 45 destroyers and shared footage of the system being fired from its silo on the frigate HMS Montrose.

The six destroyers to receive the new missile system are the HMS Daring, Dauntless, Dragon, Diamond, Defender and Duncan in a $688 million deal with MBDA Missile Systems, a joint venture of three leading European aerospace and defense companies: Airbus (37.5 percent), BAE Systems (37.5 percent) and Leonardo (25 percent) that’s based in Le Plissis Robinson, France.

“The weapon — fitted across the Type 23 frigate flotilla — bolsters the destroyers’ ability to deal with medium-range air and missile attacks, and destroy fast-moving attack boats,” the Royal Navy said. “As part of the contract the Portsmouth-based ships will also receive an upgrade to their Sea Viper missile system.”

With a maximum cruising speed of Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound), the Sea Ceptor would be slower than Russia’s Zircon missile, which is under development and is reported to have a top speed of Mach 6-8.

As well as on the destroyers, Sea Ceptor is already in service on all 13 Type 23 frigates and will be installed in their successor class currently under construction, the Type 26 and 31 classes.

The first Sea Ceptor-enhanced Type 45 is expected to be delivered by summer 2026 with the entire flotilla completed by winter 2032.

MBDA describes the Sea Ceptor as an all-weather air-defense system with the following characteristics:

  • Uses the company’s Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM);
  • Provides high rate of fire against multiple simultaneous targets;
  • Uses a “soft” vertical-launch technology for minimum launch signature and high performance;
  • Has a vertical launch enabling 360-degree coverage in all launch sectors;
  • Compact missile allows for multiple weapons fit in limited spaces.

The company said that the Sea Ceptor is just one of several missiles it provides for military users.

A Sea Ceptor missile in flight during a recent test. (@royalnavy/Zenger)

“MBDA is closely associated with Exocet, probably one of the world’s most famous anti-ship missile systems,” the company states on its website. “However, this is only one of a number of ship-based, fixed and rotary wing aircraft launched anti-ship missiles that MBDA supplies to the modern navy. MBDA is also associated with the most advanced of naval air defense systems, capable of defending against multiple attacks by aircraft and incoming anti-ship missiles.”

(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff)

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