UK to Enhance Sea Viper Air Defence System in £405M Upgrade

Sea Viper Evolution upgrades Aster 30 missiles for anti-ship ballistic missile defense
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  • 06:48 AM, January 22, 2024
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UK to Enhance Sea Viper Air Defence System in £405M Upgrade

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced an upgrade to the Sea Viper Air Defence system, a crucial component in safeguarding sailors, surface fleets, and air threats.

Valued at £405 million, the upgrade includes new missiles equipped with advanced warheads and software updates, enhancing the system's capability to counter ballistic missile threats.

Awarded in three contracts to MBDA UK, the upgrades aim to make Sea Viper the most capable naval air defence system ever developed for the Royal Navy.

This system has played a pivotal role in recent weeks, successfully protecting one of the world's busiest shipping lanes from multiple drone attacks, the MoD said.

The work will involve collaboration among employees from MBDA across the UK, France, and Italy, along with colleagues from BAE Systems.

The Sea Viper system has already demonstrated its effectiveness by being the Navy's weapon of choice in the first shooting down of an aerial threat in over 30 years. Sea Viper missiles shot down multiple attack drones as part of the U.S.-led international taskforce Operation Prosperity Guardian. The taskforce, operating in the Southern Red Sea, aims to protect freedom of navigation, international trade, and human life by countering illicit non-state actors in international waters.

The Sea Viper Evolution project will involve the upgrade of existing Aster 30 missiles to Aster 30 Block 1, enabling defense against anti-ship ballistic missile threats. Subsequent stages will evaluate the introduction of the new Aster 30 Block 1NT missile, further enhancing ballistic missile defence capabilities.

The contracts also signal enhanced cooperation with France and Italy through the Aster 30 Block 1 programme.

The extended in-service support (ISS) contract will ensure the continued availability and optimization of Sea Viper, aligning with the Royal Navy's Maritime Ballistic Missile Defence programme.

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