Securing three contracts, MBDA will enhance and maintain the Sea Viper principal area air defense system for the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers, the company announced on January 21.
Valued at £405 million ($515 million), according to a UK MOD official report, the contracts will elevate Sea Viper—recently utilized to shoot down multiple hostile drones in the Red Sea—to the status of the most capable naval air defense system developed for the Royal Navy.
Two agreements, known as Sea Viper Evolution, are poised to strengthen the Type 45 destroyers’ capabilities in safeguarding the Carrier Strike Group against anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). The system can track, target, and destroy a variety of air threats over 70 miles away.
Concurrently, an extra contract will prolong and improve the in-service support (ISS) for Sea Viper over the next five years. Functioning as the prime contractor and design authority for the Sea Viper weapon system, MBDA manages the sensor (radar), the command and control system, and the missile.
The execution of these contracts will entail collaborative efforts from MBDA employees across the UK, France, and Italy, working alongside colleagues from BAE Systems.
The initial stage of the contract will upgrade the Royal Navy’s existing Aster 30 missiles to Aster 30 Block 1, which will enable defense against anti-ship ballistic missile threats, and will see modifications to the fleet’s Multi-Function Radar (Sampson), Command and Control system and Combat Management System.
The subsequent stage of the Sea Viper evolution will evaluate the introduction of the new Aster 30 Block 1NT missile. Currently, under development with France and Italy, it features a new seeker that would even further enhance the ballistic missile defense capabilities of the UK’s Type 45 destroyers.
“These contracts will make Sea Viper the most capable naval air defense system ever developed for the Royal Navy in our 60-year history as the Navy’s primary air defense system supplier,” said Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK.
They will also see the UK further enhance the cooperation with France and Italy through MBDA by joining the Aster 30 Block 1 program, giving the UK the ability to defeat anti-ship ballistic missiles,” he added.
The enhancements to the fleet of Type 45 destroyers are expected to reach full operational capability by Autumn 2032.