The Navy’s 3D eyes

The Navy’s ‘3D eyes’ have completed three years of trials and assessment and are fully ready to look out for threats to the Fleet by sea and air.

First installed on HMS Iron Duke (which has since deployed with the system), all 19 Artisan radar sets have now rolled off the production line at BAE Systems’ Cowes works as part of a £105m deal to upgrade the Fleet.

The radar – which can be seen atop main masts – can track more than 900 targets simultaneously (in the air and on the surface), whether they’re the size of an enemy ship cruising at 15 knots or a missile no wider than a cricket ball incoming at more than 2,000mph and can see potential threats 125 miles away or as close as 650ft.

It’s been designed to ‘see through’ all the invisible ‘clutter’ in our skies created by television, satellite and phone signals and can cope with more than 10,000 mobile phone signals trying to jam it.

All in all, it’s five times more effective than its predecessor 996 (officially, Artisan is designated Type 997).

So far Artisan has been fitted to 11 of 13 Type 23 frigates, flagship HMS Ocean, assault ship HMS Bulwark, future flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

It’ll be fitted to her sister Prince of Wales, the remaining two 23s in their refit cycle, HMS Albion as she returns to front-line duties and there’s a test variant installed at the MOD’s Portsdown Technology Park overlooking Portsmouth.