The Royal Navy (RN) Type 23 Duke-class frigate HMS Argyll has completed initial firings of the new GWS 35 Sea Ceptor local area air defence system, the first end-to-end tests from a ship platform.
Argyll, the oldest of the 13 Type 23s still in RN service, performed first-of-class firings on the Hebrides range off northwest Scotland in July. Sea Ceptor is to be retrofitted to all 13 ships to replace the GWS 26 Mod 1 VL Seawolf (VLSW) point defence missile system, which will reach the end of its life in 2020.
Developed and manufactured by MBDA UK under the umbrella of its Portfolio Management Agreement with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Sea Ceptor system is founded on the ‘soft-launch’ Common Antiair Modular Missile (CAMM), which uses active radar homing, supported by mid-course guidance updates, to deliver an all-weather engagement against multiple simultaneous targets.
Unlike the short-range VLSW, the extended range (25km) and multiple simultaneous engagement capability offered by Sea Ceptor will afford protection for both the host ship and high-value units in consort.
The Sea Ceptor installation developed for the Type 23 has been engineered to enable a low-cost ship conversion by mounting equipment to existing seatings, and reusing the VLSW space envelope/deck footprint.
The VLSW silo forward of the bridge has been re-engineered to hold 32 CAMM canisters.
The use of active radar homing obviates the need for shipborne trackers, allowing for the removal of the two Type 911 trackers associated with VLSW.
Instead, the Sea Ceptor system takes track data from the Type’s 23’s Radar Type 997 E/F-band 3D surveillance radar.
GWS 35 Sea Ceptor has also been ordered by the MoD for the first three of the RN’s new Type 26 frigates. MBDA has also secured export orders for New Zealand and Chile.