Royal Navy Tests Sea Viper Air-Defense Missile

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Feb. 11, 2009)

The new Sea Viper air defence missile system demonstrated its ability to protect air, land and sea forces during a second, successful test firing.

The missile system was successfully test-fired from the 12,000 tonne trials barge Longbow, near the Ile du Levant off the French coast.

The Longbow barge has a full replica of the air defence equipment the new Type 45 destroyers will carry, including long-range and missile directing radars, a combat control centre and missiles in their vertical launcher silos.

Sea Viper is a highly sophisticated system that has been designed to allow the new Type 45 Destroyer to protect forces, both at sea and over land, against attack by enemy aircraft, as well as defending the fleet against anti-ship missiles approaching from any direction and at supersonic speeds.

MOD Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Medium Range Air Defence Weapons Team Leader, David Emly, said:

« This test was much more difficult with the target simulating a low-level anti-ship missile at close range and so I am very pleased with the result as it demonstrates that the Type 45 Destroyer’s powerful Anti-Air Warfare capability is on track to be delivered in 2010. »

Integral to the Sea Viper system is the Sampson Multi Function Radar which tracks targets and directs missiles towards them. This element is a bespoke design developed by BAE Systems to meet the Royal Navy’s very specific requirements.

This latest success comes hot on the heels of the recent arrival of the first Type 45 destroyer, HMS Daring, into her home port of Portsmouth for the first time in January. Integrating the Sea Viper system is the main focus of the ship’s remaining trials before she is declared ready for service.


  1. Sea Viper came into being on 28 January when Vice Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, Chief of Material Fleet, formally announced the name selected by the Royal Navy for its Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS).
  2. Sea Viper is a maritime area air defence system composed of the Sampson radar, a Combat Management System, long range radar, the Sylver missile launching system and Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles.
  3. The Aster missiles are capable of speeds in excess of mach four and are highly agile, using an innovative system called ‘Pif Paf’. This combines conventional aerodynamic control with a novel lateral thrust system. The trial comprised the firing of a single Aster 15 missile launched against a Mirach target simulating a low level attack from an anti-ship missile.
  4. The first Type 45 Destroyer HMS Daring was handed over to the MOD on 10 December 2008. She sailed into her home port of Portsmouth for the first time on 28 January 2009. Final MOD controlled sea-trials and integration activity is now underway prior to her entering service with the Royal Navy in 2010.