In ground-launched form, the CAMM is already in service with the British Army, while the Sea Ceptor will also arm the future Type 26 and Type 31 frigates and the missile has recently been ordered by Brazil and Canada.
The first Type 45 destroyer is expected to have been overhauled with the new missiles by summer 2026.
The relevance of the weapons upgrade will be felt particularly by the Carrier Strike Group, the U.K.’s newly regenerated maritime task forces based around the pair of Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.
“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 Defense Equipment & Support (DE&S), the Ministry of Defense’s procurement arm.
In the past, The War Zone has looked at some of the deficiencies in the organic air defenses of the 70,000-ton Queen Elizabeth class carriers.
These warships are equipped with three Mk 15 Phalanx close-in weapon systems (CIWS), capable against traditional anti-ship cruise missiles and small unmanned aircraft and boats, but generally installed on warships as a last-ditch measure against any threats that might have “leaked” through the outer defensive layer, rather than the only defense.
What is more, in a high-threat environment, an attack against a carrier is likely to involve barrages of different weapons, requiring a number of weapons and tactics to counter them. Increasingly, these threats may include higher-end hypersonic and stealthy cruise missiles. The Sea Ceptor, in particular, is claimed to offer an anti-cruise missile capability.
As such, defense of the carrier rests, to a significant degree, on the Type 45s, two of which will routinely accompany each Carrier Strike Group, bolstered by other NATO vessels.
For its part, the Type 45 has had problems with maintainability in the past, with some well-publicized reliability issues, especially when on deployment, leading to difficulties in putting to sea. These problems have since been addressed with an upgrade to the diesel generators as part of a two-phase program, called Project Napier.
As it stands, increasing the Type 45’s air defense missile capacity from 48 to 72 weapons will provide a significant increase in total firepower to these in-demand warships, as well as helping reinforce the defensive umbrella around the Carrier Strike Groups. At the same time, the U.K. destroyer fleet is still relatively small, especially if the plan is for two of them to be part of any future Carrier Strike Group.
However, outside of the Carrier Strike Groups, adding Sea Ceptor is certain to be a valuable additional defense for any grouping that a Type 45 is part of, as well as just for these ships operating independently, in general. This is especially true when operating in more contested waters, as evidenced by recent encounters with Russian warships and aircraft in the eastern Mediterranean, and in the Black Sea.
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