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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, β€œ 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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