Air Defense: New And Improved, Eventually


February 24, 2012:  Britain is developing a new sea-going anti-aircraft missile system to replace the current Sea Wolf. Some $760 million is being spent over the next five years to develop the smaller (four will fit in a vertical launch cell that now holds one Sea Wolf) and more capable Sea Ceptor missiles. The new missile will be effective against incoming anti-ship missiles as well as aircraft. It will first be installed on Type 23 destroyers (replacing Sea Wolf) and then be original equipment on the new Type 26 destroyers.

In service since 1980, Sea Wolf is a 82 kg (180 pound) missile with a 14 kg (30 pound) warhead and a max range of 10 kilometers. Sea Wolf has a .45 meter (17.5 inch) wingspan. Sea Ceptor will have a 20 kilometer range. Based on past experience, Sea Ceptor may not be ready in five years and may cost a billion dollars or more to develop. One very important aspect of Sea Ceptor is that it will keep a team of missile system developers gainfully employed for at least five years.


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