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UK looks to move forward with Sea Viper Evolution for maritime BMD

The UK has confirmed plans to introduce a maritime ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability on the Royal Navy's (RN's) six Type 45 destroyers by the end of the decade.

Updates to the ships' Sea Viper anti-air guided weapons system are intended to confer Type 45 with the ability to protect maritime units from anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) threats. Sea Viper is the name given to the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) variant specific to the RN.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has for more than a decade funded science, technology, and experimentation activities, though the Missile Defence Centre, to explore options for a maritime BMD capability, including demonstrations of a BMD mode for the Sampson multifunction radar (MFR). The UK has also engaged with other partners and allies through the 12-nation Maritime Theatre Missile Defense Forum.

In addition, the UK, France, and Italy have co-funded MBDA to explore the growth potential latent in the PAAMS system architecture. The work has explored how the existing PAAMS system could be adapted and enhanced to deliver a BMD capability.

The UK's intention to go forward with a Sea Viper upgrade was first spelled out in the Defence Command Paper presented to parliament in March 2021. In its response to the House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) report, We're going to need a bigger Navy, published on 25 February, the government provided further clarification of its plans to pursue a Sea Viper Evolution (SVE) by the late 2020s.

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