Seawolf is the shield of Britain’s frigate fleet against air attack. In service for more than 30 years it has proven itself in battle in the Falklands and remains a potent weapon to this day.
Unlike Sea Viper and Sea Dart, Seawolf is intended to defend an individual ship rather than a task group, engaging aircraft or sea-skimming missiles. It is fired from a vertical silo on Type 23 frigates, and guided on to its target courtesy of a tracking system on the ship.
The original Seawolf had a very limited range of just six miles, but the frigate fleet is in the middle of receiving the latest, more potent version of the missile system. It means that Seawolf can track – and destroy – a target the size of a cricket ball travelling at three times the speed of sound well beyond the limit of the original missile.
If the system was placed in the middle of London, it could track its target over the M25 and knock it out of the sky over the North Circular - and the whole action would last under 20 seconds. Each Type 23 frigate carries out at least two Seawolf firings on ranges off the UK coast before each deployment.
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