Naval Warfare

MBDA Awarded Contract to Elevate Sea Viper Principal Area Air Defense System

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MBDA Awarded Contract to Elevate Sea Viper Principal Area Air Defense System

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HMS Dragon a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer carried out a successful firing of a Sea Viper missile in the Atlantic off the Hebride Isles.
HMS Dragon a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer carried out a successful firing of a Sea Viper missile in the Atlantic off the Hebride Isles. 27 May 2021 Image from the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon

MBDA has received three contracts worth around £400 million to boost and sustain the Sea Viper principal area air defence system of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers. Two contracts, called Sea Viper Evolution, will enable the Type 45 Destroyers to defend the Carrier Strike Group against anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). Meanwhile, another contract will provide extended and enhanced in-service support (ISS) contract for Sea Viper for a further five years. MBDA is the prime contractor and design authority for the Sea Viper weapon system, including the sensor (radar), the command and control system, and the missile. The extended ISS contract will continue to build upon MBDA’s pioneering data driven approach to optimised stockpile availability, ensuring the Royal Navy have weapons ready at time of need.

Scott Jamieson, Managing Director, BAE Systems’ Maritime Services business, said: “Our Radar business is excited to be working with MBDA on the Sea Viper Evolution upgrade to our SAMPSON Radar on board the UK’s Type 45 Destroyers. This new capability will form a key element of the UK’s Maritime Ballistic Missile Defence programme.”

Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK, said: “These contracts will make Sea Viper the most capable naval air defence system ever developed for the Royal Navy in our 60 year history as the Navy’s primary air defence system supplier. They will also see the UK further enhance the co-operation with France and Italy through MBDA by joining the Aster 30 Block 1 programme, giving the UK the ability to defeat anti-ship ballistic missiles.”

The Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) is a joint programme developed by France, Italy, and the United Kingdom for an integrated anti-aircraft warfare system. The prime contractor is EUROPAAMS, a joint venture between Eurosam (66%) and UKAMS (33%). In the United Kingdom, PAAMS has been given the designation Sea Viper. The system equips the Horizon-class frigates in French and Italian service as well as the British Type 45 destroyers. PAAMS is designed to track, target and destroy a variety of high-performance air threats, including saturation attacks of very low altitude, supersonic cruise missiles, fighter aircraft, and UAVs. PAAMS can launch eight missiles in under ten seconds with its Sylver Vertical Launching System, and simultaneously guide up to 16 missiles.

The main element of Sea Viper Evolution will see the Royal Navy’s existing Aster 30 missiles receive upgraded Block 1 warheads and new guidance and seeker software to deal with new anti-ship ballistic missile threats, whilst retaining its world leading anti-air warfare capability. The Type 45’s Sampson multi-function radar, and combat management system will also be upgraded. An integrated team from MBDA across the UK, France and Italy is conducting the work together with BAE Systems Maritime Services. The second part of Sea Viper Evolution is an assessment phase evaluating adding the new Aster 30 Block 1NT missile to the Type 45 destroyers, as well as further improvements to the radar and the wider weapon system, to provide world leading capabilities against medium range manoeuvring and separating ballistic missiles.

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