LONDON — Britain’s Type 45 destroyer is to be fitted with a new short-range anti-air missile as part of a wider weapons capability upgrade, which includes updates to the warship’s long-range weapon and the associated command-and-control system.
The boost to the Type 45′s fire power will see missile-maker MBDA UK integrate its Common Anti-Air Modular Missile, or CAMM, into an upgraded Sea Viper command-and-control system used by the warship.
The six anti-air Type 45 destroyers in the Royal Navy are currently fitted with Eurosam-designed short-range Aster 15 and long-range Aster 30 missiles, which, along with the Sampson radar, is locally known as the Sea Viper system.
Under the upgrade plan, the Aster 15 will be replaced with CAMM, the C2 system will receive a major boost in processing power and the Aster 30 could go through a recently announced midlife refresh.
Overall, the investment in Type 45 lethality improvements comes to £500 million (U.S. $692 million), the Ministry of Defence said. The bulk of that spending is related to Aster 30 upgrades.
The Aster 30 refresh is a trinational sustainment and enhancement contract between the U.K., France and Italy.
The MoD said additional vertical launcher cells are also being installed for CAMMS, enabling a significant increase in the number of air defense missiles available.
“To facilitate the introduction of CAMM, a new 24-missile CAMM silo will be added in front of the current 48-missile Aster 30 silos, therefore increasing the overall missile capacity of the vessels by 50 percent. This will result in a total capacity of 72 anti-air missiles per destroyer,” the ministry said.
The existing 48 Sylver vertical launch cells on the Type 45 will be solely for the longer-range Aster 30 missile.
In a statement, the ministry said MBDA won an “11-year contract to integrate the CAMM program, often referred to as Sea Ceptor, into the Type 45 destroyers’ Sea Viper weapon systems. In addition to this, a 10-year contract with Eurosam will provide a refresh of the Aster 30 missiles system that are currently in use.”
The planned overhaul of the first destroyer equipped with CAMM is set to be complete by the summer of 2026.
The warships will be fitted with the new missile and the additional vertical launchers during scheduled maintenance and update efforts, which also include a substantial power plant improvement program.
The weapon is principally for close-in and local-area air defense against high-speed targets, but the ministry said CAMM would also give the Type 45 an ability to effectively engage small, fast inshore attack craft, hovering helicopters, and low-speed targets.
Royal Navy Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Jerry Kyd said the programs would provide an exceptional capability to the front line, “ensuring the Royal Navy remains poised to defend the surface fleet, and most importantly the carrier strike group, against complex air threats both now and into the future.”
The weapon entered service onboard a Type 23 frigate in 2018 and is scheduled to be fitted to the new Type 26 and Type 31 class frigates undergoing construction. The missile was also acquired by the British Army for air defense.
The missile, for which an extended-range variant exists, has provided substantial export business for the U.K. arm of MBDA. Customers include Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Chile and at least one unnamed country.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.