For nearly 40 years the Sea Dart missile has been the Fleet's first line of defence against air attack. It is the main weapon of our Type 42 destroyers, proven in both the Falklands and the first Gulf War.
Sea Dart is fired from the distinctive launcher in front of the Type 42's bridge. A booster rocket helps the missile roar away from the ship, accelerating Sea Dart to twice the speed of sound – at which point its ramjet engine sustains its flight until it engages its target.
In the Falklands conflict, Sea Dart is credited with downing seven Argentine aircraft. A decade later a Sea Dart fired by HMS Gloucester knocked an Iraqi Silkworm missile out of the sky as it headed for the American battleship USS Missouri – the first time a missile has shot down another missile.
Since it was first introduced in the early 1970s Sea Dart has been constantly improved, doubling the missile's range now to some 80 miles.
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