Sea Viper is the punch of the Type 45 destroyers, the very reason the ships exist: to protect a naval task force from air attack.
Sea Viper is the punch of the Type 45 destroyers, the very reason the ships exist - and the reason why that main mast is so tall. The missile provides all-round defence – not just for the destroyer but for an entire naval task group - against all aerial threats some 70 miles away. It races towards its target at speeds in excess of Mach Four (over 3,000mph) using a series of tiny jets to manoeuvre, carrying out sharp turns at G forces no human could endure.
The system comprises Sampson radar (the spinning egg atop the Type 45’s main mast), a Combat Management System, long-range radar, the Sylver missile-launching system on the destroyer's forecastle and Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles with ranges up to 20 and 75 miles respectively.
Until January 28 2009 – the date of the arrival of the first Type 45, HMS Daring, in Portsmouth – Sea Viper was known as PAAMS: Principal Anti-Air Missile System.
The missiles were tested at France's missile range, the Centre d’Essais de Lancement des Missiles on Île du Levant, off Toulon, using a special trials barge, Longbow, before the first successful firing from Type 45.
That came off the Outer Hebrides in September 2010 at the Benbecula ranges, where HMS Dauntless successfully shot down a drone target.
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