HMS Argyll successfully test-fires the Royal Navy’s new Sea Ceptor missile

On 22nd July HMS Argyll successfully test-fired several Sea Ceptor missiles at the Outer Hebredies test range. This short-range air defence missile is replacing the Sea Wolf missile system on the RN’s Type 23 frigates and will also be fitted to the Type 26 frigates.

Sea Ceptor uses MBDA’s Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) and the similar Land Ceptor version will replace Rapier in service with the British Army. CAMM is ‘cold launched’ using compressed air, before the rocket motors ignite when well clear of the ship. This simplifies the design of the launch silo. Sea Ceptor is intended to give the Royal Navy an improved shield against a new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles, fast jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The missile can reach speeds of Mach 3 and can engage multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of around 500 square miles. With a range of approximately 25 km, almost double that of Sea Wolf, it significantly extends the area under its protective umbrella. The escort vessels carrying the system are is also intended to form a critical part of the protection for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

The missile is guided by the Type 997 Artisan medium range 3D surveillance radar, recently installed across the Type 23 frigate fleet, replacing the Type 996. Sea Wolf also required two Type 911 fire control radars which have been removed and replaced with small data-link aerials that transmit guidance data to the Sea Ceptor. Removal of the 911 is a considerable saving on top weight and could allow the fitting of other equipment on the ships. HMS Argyll has 32 Sea Ceptor cells, a like-for-like replacement of the 32 Sea wolf Cells. The Type 26 frigate will have greater capacity with a 24-cell silo on the foredeck and a 24-cell silo aft, behind the funnel.

At the time of writing HMS Argyll, HMS Westminster and HMS Montrose have received Sea Ceptor. Eventually, all 13 Type 23s will receive the system during an ongoing programme of mid-life refits. HMS Argyll will conduct further firing trials of the system before she deploys to Japan next year.