European missile maker MBDA has received contracts totaling around £400 million ($508 million) to bolster and sustain the Royal Navy’s Sea Viper principal area air defense system, a critical component of the Type 45 destroyers.
Two contracts, called Sea Viper Evolution, aim to elevate the system’s capabilities, ensuring it remains at the forefront of naval air defense.
The primary focus of Sea Viper Evolution is to fortify the Type 45 destroyers’ ability to defend the Carrier Strike Group against emerging threats, specifically anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). The upgrade involves enhancing the existing Aster 30 missiles with upgraded Block 1 warheads and new guidance and seeker software tailored to counter new anti-ship ballistic missile challenges.
Simultaneously, upgrades to the Type 45’s Sampson multi-function radar and combat management system are in the pipeline.
Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK, highlighted the significance of these contracts, stating, “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.”
The collaboration extends beyond national borders, with the UK, France, and Italy coming together through MBDA to join the Aster 30 Block 1 program. This strategic alignment enhances the UK’s capability to counter anti-ship ballistic missiles.
The second phase of Sea Viper Evolution involves an assessment to potentially integrate the new Aster 30 Block 1NT missile into the Type 45 destroyers. This phase also explores additional improvements to the radar and the overall weapon system, aiming to establish world-leading capabilities against medium-range maneuvering and separating ballistic missiles.
Simultaneously, an extended in-service support (ISS) contract for Sea Viper has been secured, ensuring sustained maintenance and operational readiness for the next five years. This contract builds upon MBDA’s innovative data-driven approach to optimize stockpile availability, ensuring that the Royal Navy is well-equipped and prepared for any potential threats.
Scott Jamieson, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Maritime Services business, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating, “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.”