Naval Weapons

RN completes last Sea Skua high seas firing

01 March 2017
208 Flight's Lynx HMA.8 seen just after takeoff from HMS Portland on 25 February. The aircraft is armed with three Sea Skua missiles for a high seas firing. Source: Royal Navy

Key Points

  • Three Sea Skua missiles were successfully fired on 25 February from a Lynx HMA.8 operating from the frigate HMS Portland
  • This was the RN's last high seas firing before the Lynx and Sea Skua are retired from RN service

A UK Royal Navy (RN) Lynx HMA.8 helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) has completed the last planned live firing of the MBDA Sea Skua anti-ship missile in RN service.

The high seas firing, performed by 208 Flight from the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland, was undertaken on 25 February in the North Atlantic. According to the RN, the Lynx HMA.8 "successfully fired three Sea Skua missiles for training purposes", using a Killer Tomato surface target balloon as the target.

Sea Skua will go out of service at the end of March 2017, coincident with the retirement of the Lynx HMA.8 from RN service. 208 Flight - the RN's last embarked Lynx flight - is due to disembark from HMS Portland on 10 March and return to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton prior to 815 NAS's formal decommissioning on 23 March.

The 15 km-range Sea Skua anti-ship missile was purpose-developed to arm the Lynx. Designed to counter Soviet missile-armed fast attack craft and corvettes, the missile used the Lynx's Seaspray radar to provide semi-active guidance support to its target.

The new Wildcat HMA.2 helicopter has entered RN service devoid of any anti-surface guided weapons, leaving a 'hard-kill' capability gap between the retirement of the Lynx/Sea Skua and the arrival of the respective Heavy and Light strands of the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW), namely the MBDA Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile and Thales Martlet laser beam-riding lightweight multirole missile. FASGW trials on Wildcat are due to start in mid-2018, with Initial Operating Capability planned for no later than October 2020.

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