Meet the New Missiles Making Britain's Type 45 Destroyers Even More Fearsome

Meet the New Missiles Making Britain's Type 45 Destroyers Even More Fearsome

Traveling at a speed of Mach 3 and boasting a new active radar homing guidance system, the new missile is a force to be reckoned with. 

Britain’s Type 45 destroyers will receive a new missile system as part of a larger weapons overhaul that will substantially increase the ships’ combat capabilities.

The U.K. Ministry of Defence has announced an 11-year contract to integrate the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) program, also known as Sea Ceptor, into the Type 45 destroyers’ Sea Viper armament systems as part of a $692 million weapons refit.

CAMM is a family of next-generation surface-to-air missiles developed by British defense manufacturer MBDA UK. It is a local area missile defense and close-in missile system, boasting a range of one to twenty-five kilometers for the baseline CAMM missile variant. Traveling at a speed of Mach 3 and boasting a new active radar homing guidance system, the Ministry’s statement specified that the CAMM missiles’ primary purpose is to defend against anti-ship cruise missiles as well as fast attack craft, hovering helicopters, and low-speed targets, in addition to certain high-speed air targets. CAMM promises a major performance leap over the 1970’s Sea Wolf missile that it is replacing. “These programmes will provide an exceptional capability to the front line, ensuring the RN remains poised to defend the surface fleet, and most importantly the Carrier Strike Group, against complex air threats both now and into the future,” said Royal Navy Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd. CAMM is already active in both the British Army and Royal Navy, serving as a ground and ship-based air defense system respectively.

As part of a separate, 10-year deal signed with European manufacturer Eurosam GIE, the Type 45 destroyers’ Aster 30 missiles will receive a refresh that was described by the Defence Ministry as a “tri-national sustainment and enhancement contract between the UK, France and Italy.” The Aster 30 is a long-range area defense missile that is slated to stay in service throughout the life of the Type 45 destroyers, which are also known as the Daring class. “The introduction of the UK-produced CAMM missile in conjunction with the current Aster 30 missile will provide the Type 45 with a significant uplift in anti-air capability into the future as the Type 45 delivers the backbone of air defense to the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group,” said Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of Defence Equipment and Support, the Defence Ministry’s procurement agency.

A new 24-missile CAMM silo will be added in front of the Aster 30 missile silos to facilitate these weapons changes, increasing the destroyers’ overall missile capacity by 50 percent. According to the Defence Ministry statement, these modifications will boost the vessels’ total munitions capacity to an impressive seventy-two anti-air missiles. The first destroyer will be fully equipped with the CAMM system by the Summer of 2026.

Six Daring-class vessels have been commissioned, beginning with D32 Daring in 2009; all of these are currently in service. The Daring-class ships are expected to be replaced by the mysterious new Type 83 line of destroyers beginning in the mid to late 2030s.

Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for The National Interest.

Image: Flickr