MBDA has been awarded the FLAADS (Future Local Area Air Defence System) Demonstration Phase Contract by the Ministry of Defence.

Under the £483 million contract, MBDA will develop the naval air defence system, named SEA CEPTOR, to replace the Vertical Launch Seawolf currently in service on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates. SEA CEPTOR is also planned to be the principal air defence system on the successor Type 26 Global Combat Ship.

SEA CEPTOR will protect both the host ship and high value units in the local area with its capability to intercept and thereby neutralise the full range of current and future threats, including combat aircraft and the new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles. Capable of multiple channels of fire, the system will also counter saturating attacks.  

With SEA CEPTOR, this enhanced level of naval air defence will be provided at lower in-service costs for the remaining life of the Type 23’s. It will enter service in the middle of the current decade, after which it is planned that it will equip the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship.

A key design driver behind SEA CEPTOR’s concept lies in its integration philosophy. The system has been designed with the Global Combat Ship specifically in mind, however, SEA CEPTOR can be easily retrofitted into a wide range of platforms, ranging from 50m OPVs to large surface vessels.

SEA CEPTOR is a ‘soft-launch’ weapon which allows for a compact launch system that can be positioned in a number of below and above deck locations. As an accurate and responsive system with missiles featuring precision guidance, it interfaces with the ship’s existing surveillance radar and therefore does not require the dedicated fire control radars on which semi-active systems depend.

Peter Luff, minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology commented: “The introduction of this cutting edge missile system will not only ensure that the Royal Navy will be able to continue protecting our interests wherever they may be, but is also highly significant in sustaining and developing the UK’s skill in building complex weapons.”